Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Irish Soldier killed in Afghanistan
In the series of geopolitical events that have occurred since the turn of the millennium there has been relatively few Irish casualties. These tragic events that include September 11th, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the second Lebanon war, Darfur and the Palestinian intifada have rarely affected the Irish directly. There have been some unfortunate exceptions. There were approximately 20 Irish killed on September 11th. In April 2003 Lance Cpl Ian Malone from Ballyfermot Dublin was shot and killed in combat as British forces entered Basra after the initial invasion. Irish cameraman Simon Cumbers from Navan was gunned down in a suburb of Riyadh Saudi Arabia while filming for the BBC in June 2004. And last week Cavan man Justin Cupples (pictured) Of the Royal Irish Regiment was killed after recieving wounds from an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Helmand province Afghanistan.
I mourned his death when I heard of it. In particular I feel anger toward the Irish army for their stringent entry requirements that see many leaving cert drop outs and others with minor imperfections abandon a career with Oglaigh Na Heireann for the less selective British army. I wish Ian Malone and Justin Cupples had served with the Irish Defence Forces. If so they would still be alive and serving in Lebanon or Chad. However I was also angered by those in the media and blogosphere that suggested these men were somehow un Irish to join the British army. I reject this completely in particular those on Slugger O'Toole and other blogs that imply these guys got what they deserved. Personally I could never join the British Army but I am not the judging type. I accept that many people may want to join for personal or professional reasons. Not everybody lives in the sectarian bubble that is northern Ireland and if they want to join they should do so without having to justify their "Irishness" to republicans.
I fear that Justin Cupples will not be the last Irish man to die in this "War on Terror". There are many men and women from the Republic of Ireland serving with the Royal Irish Regiment most of whom serve in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has become a far more dangerous place for British soldiers than Iraq over the last 12 months or so. This is continuing to be the case on a grander scale every month as the Iraq war winds down and the Afghan conflict heats up. I take no pleasure in predicting that in three years from now Afghanistan could be the new battlefront where a two times its current size NATO army is in an endless guerrilla war with the Taliban with mounting casualties on all sides. I hope I'm wrong.