Reflection on Afghanistan - A Message For the Wider World

One of the main reasons why the British Army is considered to be the best in the world is due to its regimental system, established and perpetuated for hundreds of years because it works. At the heart of it is esprit de corps, a sense of comradeship, loyalty to a cause and each other, a bond that can be stronger even than the bond of family.

The men and women in a regiment, or a part of it such as a platoon or a company, have trained together, have fought together in different conflicts, have shared values and know each other very well indeed. Sometimes other soldiers join them for a short period of time on secondment, but without changing the regimental character or closeness of the unit. It is like a close-knit community where someone comes to stay for a period of time and is made welcome and encouraged to join in the activities, without altering the community spirit.
It must have been hard, therefore, for British soldiers in Afghanistan to find their regimental system diluted by "the rule of 3" whereby there must be an Afghan soldier and policeman working or training alongside each of them. It meant putting their trust in strangers for their work and their safety. I am sure they accepted it as part of the job, and still do, despite the challenges of absenteeism, drug dependency, illiteracy and general unreliability in many of the Afghans attached to them.
Yesterday's shocking killing of men from the Ghurka Regiment by an Afghan soldier highlights the bravery of British soldiers who face risks from within as well as without now, the precariousness of the political and military strategy there and, for me in particular, what can happen when an established and successful community is separated and diluted. It changes the nature and identity of that community and can cause problems.
You can look at this in any facet of our society. If two failing schools are merged with one successful school, it is likely that many of the strengths of the latter will be lost. If three independent and vibrant villages are made to become one, the character and vitality of each will be gone. If a farmer introduced a lot of "ordinary" sheep into a flock of rare breed sheep, soon he would no longer have rare sheep.
Maintaining a sense of community and loyalty to it is one of the most important aspects of where we are going as individuals and a world, whether it is in Afghanistan or where you live now, and whether it is within yourself or without. It is all about Community Consciousness, and it is key.