UK should have prepared for fall of Afghanistan - Alasdair Ross

Ross in Afghanistan

Alasdair Ross(left) with an army colleague meeting an Afghan family during their tour of duty in 2009. - Credit: Alasdair Ross

Afghan war veteran and Ipswich Labour councillor Alasdair Ross has spoken of his anger and frustration at the British government's response to the fall of the country over the last few days.

Mr Ross was in the army for more than 20 years, and was called back to his regiment in 2009 some years after he had retired and had been elected to Ipswich council.

He spent seven months based at Sangin Barracks in Helmand Province alongside his comrades - working closely with Afghan residents to try to rebuild the area after decades of war.

Sangin Barracks

Alasdair Ross was based at Sangin barracks in Afghanistan. - Credit: Alasdair Ross

Now the Taliban - which was driven out by the US-led coalition back in 2001 - is back in power in Kabul and there are fears there could be reprisals against those who helped the NATO coalition.

Mr Ross, a frequent critic of the government on social media, said it was inevitable that the US would have to withdraw at some point - but the British government had failed to prepare for the consequences and had left it far too late to consider getting out staff who had supported their troops and civilian staff.

He said: "We've seen how quickly things have been happening - but Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab have been totally caught out by events. They were away on holiday.

"Why hadn't the Foreign Office started making plans weeks ago to get translators and other staff out? By the time they started to do anything it was too late. Anyone left in Lashkar Gah or Kandahar can't be reached now.

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"To be fair to them, once the US had announced it was pulling its troops out there was nothing the UK government could do - but they knew about the talks that had been going on since Trump's administration but they didn't read the intelligence and make the preparations that were so badly needed."

Alasdair Ross

Alasdair Ross relaxing at the end of a tough day in Helmand province. Picture: Alasdair Ross - Credit: Alasdair Ross

Mr Ross knew colleagues who were killed or injured in Afghanistan - but said he knew the West's military presence could not last for ever.

He knew that there was always the likelihood that the Taliban would return after foreign troops left the country - but did not think they would always have their own way across the country.

He said: "Fresh fighting will soon break out, especially in the north of the country where there has always been resistance to the Taliban." 

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