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‘They’ve created a breeding place for terror’: Soldier’s widow demands answers over UK’s role in Afghanistan

The widow of a soldier who lost his life in Afghanistan says she still has questions about Britain’s military involvement there.

Wendy Rayner’s husband Peter Rayner was killed by an improvised explosive device in 2010.

Mrs Rayner watched the prime minister’s video message on Twitter in which he directly addresses those who fought and their loved ones, and praises troops who conducted the UK’s recent evacuation operation.

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British troops leave Afghanistan

“It should never have got to this stage in the first place,” she said.

“It’s alright saying these words now, but they’ve already created a breeding place for terror.

“The trauma that the whole 20 years has caused for the military, (those) serving, injured, deceased, the PTSD – not just for the families of the deceased, but this is affecting many more people.”

Mrs Rayner says while the current priority for the government is to help resettle those who have been evacuated, bereaved families needed to know why British troops were sent to Afghanistan in the first place.

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She said: “If he (Boris Johnson) wants to give answers to us, he can tell us where was the actual proof that they had the right to go in the first place? Was Al-Qaeda fully responsible for a lot of the things that they said it was?

“I don’t think my husband’s death was in vain, but I think this has got to be a lesson to our government that this never happens again.

“They did Iraq, then they did Afghanistan, both times there wasn’t much of an outcome. Things reverted back to how they were before we went in.”

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Afghanistan exit a ‘humiliation’

Former British paratrooper Michael Chadwick was 17 when he joined the army, and therefore too young to be deployed to Afghanistan.

He stayed at home and worked on repatriations and funerals – a difficult task for a young recruit.

“It was a very difficult period in my life. I probably struggled more through those six months than when I did finally deploy. It was tough,” he said.

In 2010, Mr Chadwick was deployed. He would spend seven months in Afghanistan.

“I wanted to be there more than anything,” he said. “We had a sense of purpose. Some experiences were horrific, but some were unbelievable. Putting kids in school and seeing villages thrive.”

Former British paratrooper Michael Chadwick
Image: Former British paratrooper Michael Chadwick

Mr Chadwick, now a fitness coach, says the UK’s military involvement should be remembered for its compassion and bravery.

He said: “I come from a paratrooper background, where we’re renowned for aggression and what we can do in fighting, but what you’ve seen over the past couple of weeks in terms of them turning it around and the bravery and the compassion, that’s what we’re about.

“I think they can hold their heads up and be extremely proud of what we’ve done, especially in the spotlight, in extremely difficult conditions over the past few weeks, in front of the eyes of the whole world, to do what they’ve done, is unbelievable.”

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