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Located in Kabul, Afghanistan, CAPS is an independent, research centre that strives to conduct action-oriented research which will influence policy-makers. It works diligently towards building local capacity to produce conflict and threat assessments that will influence the safety and security of the people serving the governments, and international aid organizations.
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Regional News
Jan 01, 2008
Soldiers betrayed after Helmand medal 'U-turn'

Veterans of the most ferocious fighting in Afghanistan are said to feel betrayed following an apparent about-turn by Army top brass over the promise of a special award.

  • Frontline: Our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • Leader: Afghan medals needed

    After a Daily Telegraph campaign, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, said troops who fought in Helmand and Kandahar provinces would receive a Southern Afghanistan clasp to recognise their courage and the harsh conditions.

    But the plan, backed by ministers and civil servants, has stalled amid opposition from high-ranking officers.

  • In particular, Gen Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman, the vice-chief of the defence staff, is said to have made clear his view that the present medals system was adequate.

    Other officers expressed concern that the bravery of troops elsewhere in Afghanistan could be devalued if the fighting in the south was singled out for recognition.

    The Ministry of Defence says the decision remains under consideration, but morale among troops from the Parachute Regiment, Royal Marines and 12 Mechanised Brigade, units which experienced some of the fiercest fighting in the summer, has been damaged.

    One Marines officer who has served two tours in Afghanistan said the process had "ground to a halt" with some senior officers "hoping it will all go away".

    "It's not great for morale and it won't go down well for those just back from the fighting who are expected to return next year," he said.

    When Gen Dannatt visited Helmand last year he told troops there should be a clasp to the Afghanistan medal because, "That would be proper recognition of the very difficult circumstances and the fighting that's going on here".

    Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, said troops had been engaged in "toe-to-toe" combat.

    "Anyone who has commanded troops in action understands how important medals are for morale. But perhaps the main opponents of the Helmand clasp and the wounded medal have not commanded forces in battle."

    Patrick Mercer, a Tory MP and former infantry officer, said it was, "extraordinary that senior officers would stand in the way of this award".

    An MoD spokesman said: "There is no truth in the allegation that [Gen Granville-Chapman] is standing in the way of any change. The decision to make the award, or not, will involve all of the chiefs."

    (Source: Thomas Harding, "Soldiers betrayed after Helmand medal 'U-turn", Telegraph, 31 Decmber 2007)

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