In this follow-up to the extremely successful Losing Small Wars, Frank Ledwidge analyses the cost - both financial and human - of Britain's involvement in the Afghanistan war. With the aid of interviews, on-the-ground research and countless Freedom of Information requests, he pieces together the enormous burden the Afghan intervention has placed on the shoulders of British soldiers and their families, UK taxpayers and - by far the greatest sufferers - Afghan civilians. Amongst other issues, he highlights the soldiers left horribly maimed, UK funds poured into the corrupt black hole that is the Afghan government, refugees driven out of Helmand province into disease-ridden camps, and the long-term damage to the international reputation of the UK military. Ledwidge argues that the only true beneficiaries of the conflict are development consultants, Afghan drugs kingpins and international arms companies. This is both an extraordinary piece of investigative journalism and a heart-breaking account of military adventurism gone horribly wrong. A new afterword brings the analysis up to date.
Frank Ledwidge spent 15 years as a Naval reserve military intelligence officer, serving on front-line operations in the Balkan wars and Iraq, where he commanded British and multi-national units. In civilian life he practised as a criminal barrister for eight years before specialising in international development and human rights law, and worked as a civilian advisor all over the world, including in Afghanistan and most recently Libya. He is the author of Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan (2011).