Former Colonel and Defence Attaché to Afghanistan between 2008-09 Simon Diggins told Express.co.uk that the chosen date for the final withdrawal of US troops from Afghan was “crassly inappropriate.” In a wide-ranging interview about the future of Afghanistan as the US pulls out after twenty years, Colonel Diggins explained how it seemed the US was looking for a “major anniversary that resonates”. The former Colonel went on to highlight how the UK will need to continue to support the Afghan government for many years to come and insisted the UK must offer visas to those interpreters that assisted the British army during the war as their lives are at risk.
Diggins said: “I think the choice of date is crassly inappropriate.
“I just can’t believe it, that seems to me that somebody is looking at a matrix and saying what’s a ‘major anniversary that resonates’ and they’ve picked that particular date.”
The former Attaché to Afghanistan added: “But I think what they are really saying is that they are not going to hang around any longer.”
The USA still have around 3,500 troops on the ground in Afghanistan while the British Army have about 750 personnel who have remained in the country as part of a NATO mission to train the Afghan Army.
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Colonel Diggins who stood as a Labour candidate at the 2015 election said: “The feeling I think in America amongst some of the analysts is the conditions-based approach, which was the approach that had been set up by Donald Trump, which is essentially requiring the Taliban to behave.
“But the conditions could go on for a long time.”
Diggins believes “strategic patience” has now “run out” amongst US policymakers who have chosen to an end all US troop presence in the country by September 11th, 2021 (9/11) which will be the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
He added: “This (Afghanistan) is unfinished business for President Biden for where he thought the US ought to go.”
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The former colonel also outlined why it was vital that the U.K. supports the Afghans who assisted the British Army during the war and called for Britain to assist further in offering these people homes in the U.K.
Diggins said: “They were intimately involved in our campaign, they are part of the obligation – without them, we could not have done what we did.”
He went on to say how the Taliban regard the interpreters as “traitors” and thus as the military pull out, interpreters are a target for the Taliban with reports already coming in of interpreters and their families being killed.
And he concluded that “we (The U.K.) must give them sanctuary in this country” but stressed how work is being done by Home Secretary Priti Patel and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to produce ‘special visas’ for interpreters and their families, an initiative the U.S. government are already undertaking in Afghanistan.