British veterans 'heartbroken' over Afghanistan turmoil

Ex-paratrooper Jack Cummings says he lost his legs 'for nothing'

A British veteran who lost both his legs in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan has described the situation in country as “shameful”.

Ben Parkinson suffered horrendous injuries when his vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb 15 years ago.

“I’m still alive but for the people who lost their sons, it really is such a shame,” the former paratrooper said.

Filmmaker and former Royal Marine Commando, James Glancy, shared a picture of his Afghan military colleagues from February, all of whom says were all executed outside their homes by the Taliban in Kandahar on Thursday.

The post came amid reports of Taliban fighters going door-to-door seeking former Afghan government employees.

Jack Cummings, of Oxford, England, said the situation was “heartbreaking”.

“Was it worth it, probably not. Did I lose my legs for nothing, looks like it,” he said.

“Did my mates die in vain. Yep. Many emotions going through my head, anger, betrayal sadness to name a few.”

Former serviceman Tom Tugendhat, who is now chairman of the UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee, criticised the UK for withdrawing and called the past two decades “wasteful and unnecessary”.

“I’ve seen what it costs and what sacrifices are being thrown away,” he said.

“And I know who’s going to pay for it – we will.

“The decision to withdraw is like a rug pulled from under the feet of our partners. After 20 years, billions of dollars and thousands of lives, Afghanistan now looks like a fling.

“Over my four years I met and served with the most impressive and courageous people. Afghans, Brits, Americans, Canadians, Dutch, French, Romanians, Turks, Aussies, Kiwis and many more.

“Many of us gave all we could. The operation broke us. Worse, it tore families apart, left children orphans and parents to cry alone.”

Shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, urged the government to reconsider its “wrong-headed and shortsighted” decision to cut foreign aid.

“The rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan is a dark moment for the world,” he said.

“It is vital that the UK lives up to its responsibilities.”

Former solider and Labour MP Dan Jarvis said the UK government needs to have an continuing dialogue with the Taliban.

He said his former regiment was in Kabul helping British passport holders to evacuate the country.

“We have to accept there’s a new normal now in Afghanistan,” he told the BBC.

“Although it is a bitter pill to swallow we are going to have to engage with the new administration in Kabul. It is in our national interest.

“The diplomatic focus has to be on averting a humanitarian disaster. The UK government, working with its international partners, has to have a dialogue with the Taliban to try and avert a humanitarian disaster.”

Mr Jarvis, who served three tours in Afghanistan, says the Taliban takeover has left him and his colleagues "heartbroken" and that it feels like it was “all for nothing”.

Veteran Major Jamie Gordon, who is now a police inspector, reiterated his comments.

“For all of us who served in Afghanistan it is heart breaking to see the events unfolding there,” he said.

“However I think it’s important that every service person remembers that we did our best and that nobody could have asked for more.”

The 22 Engineer Regiment has urged veterans to seek help if they are struggling to deal with what has happened.

“For those who’ve served in Afghanistan and are struggling to process what is happening there: it’s important to realise that what’s playing out now isn’t your fault,” it said.

“Vet or serving, if you feel helpless, heartbroken and need help, ask for it.”

Updated: August 16th 2021, 3:13 PM
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