It’s taken the interview over a week to make it from the BBC World Service onto BBC TV primetime (News at Ten) but on Friday evening the Beeb had a feature on the British military presence in Afghanistan. The interview was with Lt Gen David Richards (left).
He is commanding the Nato force in the country and has described the threat as “persistent low-level dirty fighting”.
Extra helicopters and equipment were required to cope, he said.
“This sort of thing hasn’t really happened so consistently, I don’t think, since the Korean War or the Second World War,” he told the BBC World Service.
“It happened for periods in the Falklands, obviously, and it happened for short periods in the Gulf on both occasions. But this is persistent low-level dirty fighting.”
The comment echoes remarks made by the UK’s chief of Defence Staff in 2001, again in relation to Afghanistan.
Admiral Sir Michael Boyce compared it to a new Cold War and said the conflict in Afghanistan was the most difficult Britain had faced since the Korean War in the 1950s.
Separately, in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan in 2002 it was noted that:
It was the first time Canadian troops had been killed in a combat zone since the Korean War in the early 1950s.
What’s interesting about this is not that there’s a lot of sustained fighting going on in Afghanistan, but that a general likens it to the Korean war. My guess is that less than 1% of the British population know that British troops made up part of the UN forces in the Korean war. There’s a brief summary on the BBC site.