JNN 30 May 2013 London : An independent study has found that the UK military’s presence in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, where most British troops are based, has cost the country more than 37 billion pounds so far, local media reported.
The author of the damning study entitled “Investment in Blood” said failing, bloody campaign in Afghanistan has cost £2,000 per UK household or 15 million pounds a day.
Frank Ledwidge said the study also projects that the cost of the war will top 40 billion pounds by 2020.
The equivalent of £25,000 will have been spent for every one of Helmand’s 1.5 million inhabitants, more than most of them will earn in a lifetime, according to the study.
This is while that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has tried to undermine the estimates, claiming that true costs of conducting military operations in Afghanistan would be about 25 billion pounds.
By 2020, the author of the new book says, Britain will have spent at least £40 billion on its Afghan campaign, enough to recruit over 5,000 police officers or nurses and pay for them throughout their careers.
And the human cost of the war? More than 440 British troopers have been killed in Afghanistan since the UK joined a US-led occupation of the country began back in 2001.
Ledwidge, who has also been a civilian adviser to the British government in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, says Helmand is no more stable now than when thousands of British troops were deployed there in 2006. Opium production that fell under the Taliban, is increasing, fuelling corruption and the coffers of warlords.
“Rendering the Afghan armed forces capable of securing the province [Helmand] is regarded by many ordinary British soldiers as little short of ridiculous,” Ledwidge writes.
Though British and other foreign troops were sent to Afghanistan to stop al-Qaeda posing a threat to Britain’s national security, “of all the thousands of civilians and combatants, not a single Qaeda operative or ‘international terrorist’ who could conceivably have threatened the United Kingdom is recorded as having been killed by NATO troops in Helmand,” Ledwidge writes.
The real beneficiaries of the war, he suggests, are development consultants, Afghan drug lords, and international arms companies. Much of British aid to Afghanistan is spent on consultancy fees rather than those Afghans who need it most.