Just 24 hours after the Prime Minister rebuked military chiefs for publicly criticising the Government, General Sir Peter Wall, the Chief of the General Staff, suggests in a television programme that Mr Cameron’s 2015 “deadline” to end combat operations could slip.
Mr Cameron had angrily told RAF and Navy chiefs who questioned the mission in Libya: “You do the fighting, I’ll do the talking.”
The Prime Minister is now at odds with the heads of the Armed Forces on the operations in both Afghanistan and Libya, leading to warnings about the strained relations between civilian and military leaders.
British troops have been deployed in Afghanistan since 2001, with the lives of 374 service personnel lost. Mr Cameron has repeatedly stated that British combat operations will end by 2015 and that his deadline is firm.
In a documentary to be broadcast tonight, Gen Wall suggests that time frame could yet change. “Whether or not it turns out to be an absolute timeline or more conditions-based approach nearer the time, we shall find out,” he says in an interview for Afghanistan: War Without End? to be shown on BBC Two.
He says he did not think Mr Cameron’s promise was “unhelpful”. “You’ve got to set ambitious goals if you want to pull these things off in the strategic space, and the benefits of that goal are already being felt.”
His challenge over Afghanistan comes as President Barack Obama is due to announce major US withdrawals. This will clear the way for Mr Cameron to begin removing troops, with cuts to Britain’s 9,500-strong Afghan mission to start later this year as 450 personnel are sent home. British Army commanders are increasingly concerned that troops are to be sent home too early, potentially jeopardising military progress against the Taliban.
General Lord Dannatt, the former head of the Army, yesterday warned against excessive haste, saying the Prime Minister should not “risk the investment in blood and treasure just for a domestic political agenda”.
Dr Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, said last week that any decision on the first phase of a reduction in British numbers should not be taken before the impact of this summer’s campaign has been assessed.
The Prime Minister is also under mounting pressure over the operation he initiated in Libya in March. After more than three months and thousands of air strikes, Col Muammar Gaddafi is still in power and Mr Cameron is facing questions about the costs of a prolonged operation.
The Daily Telegraph disclosed yesterday that the RAF’s operations chief had privately told MPs it could not sustain its Libyan operations beyond September without cutting operations elsewhere. Last week, the head of the Royal Navy made a similar warning in The Daily Telegraph.
At a press conference yesterday, Mr Cameron chided the chiefs and revealed his irritation at repeated defence leaks. “There are moments when I wake up in the morning and read the newspapers and I think 'You do the fighting, I’ll do the talking’,” he said.
Mr Cameron said he was “very content” with the support he receives from the Forces, but senior sources said there was “growing irritation” in No 10 over some of their statements. Mr Cameron is understood to be particularly unhappy that some of the military concerns expressed about Libya to MPs and the media have not been raised with him. A senior source said: “In some ways, it’s a good thing that the chiefs are prepared to stand up to ministers and aren’t just 'Yes’ men. But it would be much more helpful if they did it in private instead of in the papers and in Parliament.”
One MP close to the Prime Minister said there was growing anger in Downing Street at the chiefs’ actions over the Libyan conflict and accused them of trying to use it to reverse cuts made in the Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, said Mr Cameron should listen to the concerns and reconsider his policies.
But the Prime Minister rejected the warnings over Libya, saying: “I am absolutely confident that we can keep this pressure up and we can maintain this mission for as long as is necessary.”
ternyata tentaranya udah mulai sadar, bahwa darah mereka untuk biaya politikus mereka merebut popularitas
dimulai konflik terbuka pemimpin sipil dan militer di inggris tentang libya,kin isu afghanistan bikin perpecahan