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Too young victims of our new Vietnam.

Byline: George Galloway

NINETEEN. In 1965, that was the average age of the American servicemen already dying in their hundreds in the Vietnam War which would last another nine, blood-soaked years.

Last week, the latest in a long line of US Air Force friendly-fire massacres of British soldiers happened in the Helmand province of Afghanistan.

Three Tommys were killed by an American bomb. Two critically injured. At the weekend, the Ministry of Defence released their names and their ages.

Privates Aaron McClure, Robert Foster and John Thrumble were serving with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment when they died. They were 19, 19 and 21-yearsold respectively. Who says we haven't blundered into another Vietnam?

Dr John Reid, two million rounds ago when he was Defence Secretary, said he hoped the men he was sending into Helmand would return "without firing a shot".

As epitaphs go, I'm content to let that one hang round his neck. His hapless Mr Magoo successor, Des Browne, appears like a bespectacled rabbit caught in headlamps.

The part-time Defence and Scottish Secretary responsible for the Iranian hostages fiasco, said there was a "small margin of error" involved in the friendly-fire carnage.

That is not a bad epitaph too. But how come there's never any friendly fire incidents involving us on them? Is it because their armies contain a larger than normal collection of Columbine-type crazies and LA South Central thugs?

But it was ever thus. My late grandfather, who was in Monty's Eighth Army in World War Two, told me the Americans bombed them from El Alamein to Monte Casino. "When we sent in our bombers, the Germans ducked," he said. "When the Germans sent in theirs, we ducked. When the US sent in theirs, we all ducked."

Plus ca change mais plus c'est la meme chose - as George W. Bush would not be able to say.

How come there's never any friendly-fire incidents involving us on them? Is it because their armies contain a larger collection of crazies and thugs?


VICTIMS: Soldiers John Thrumble, main pic, Robert Foster, inset, and Aaron McClure, below, died in Afghanistan PICTURE: PA
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 27, 2007
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