A SOLDIER who was ‘blown up’ in Afghanistan says he fears for the mental health of those he served alongside amid feelings they had “wasted their time” in the country that has been retaken by the Taliban. 

Andrew Inwood suffered life changing injuries when an armoured vehicle he and six others were travelling in was blown up by an IED – the roadside improvised explosive devices that became the hallmark of the Taliban’s guerrilla warfare tactics. 

The former Royal Welsh Fusilier, who served two tours of Afghanistan, said as well as his worries for those who fought alongside him he fears for the country, and its millions of citizens, who he believes have been let down by the Allied troop withdrawal that has paved the way for the Taliban, which ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, to regain control. 

Of his comrades Andrew, who lives in Caerphilly, said: “We were brothers and felt as though we went out there to protect and help people, and to look at how it is going now they feel as if they’ve wasted their time and have gone through all that horror and trauma for nothing.  

“They will be feeling like that for a long time, men and women. It won’t just disappear in 10 or 20 years time. It will be stewing, there’s nothing worse than having spent 10 or 20 years dedicating your life to something and to have it all turned on its head for nothing.” 

READ MORE: Calls for UK support for Afghan nationals as Taliban take control

The National Wales: PA File photo. British soldiers joined the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Picture: Massoud Hossaini/PAPA File photo. British soldiers joined the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Picture: Massoud Hossaini/PA

The Taliban banned girls from being educated as well as entertainment such as television, music and dancing when it ruled the country with fear for five years. The brutal fundamentalist regime also carried out public executions including the stoning of women accused of crimes such as adultery. 

Andrew said he now expects countless Afghans to try and flee the country – with chaotic scenes already reported at Kabul airport today as desperate people tried to board flights airlifting foreign nationals from the capital. 

The 33-year-old veteran said he believes the Western military powers should be standing by the country. 

“I feel as though we should still be out there and supporting the country. The influx of refugees will be massive as they will want to get out of the country, especially the women and children who could be stoned to death for reading a book. They will want to come where they are safe.” 

READ MORE: Plea for Britain to save Afghan interpreters from Taliban

During his first tour of Afghanistan, over the Christmas and new year period in 2007/08, Andrew and his unit were training the Afghan army and police to conduct road side check points but he feels their efforts were largely wasted. 

“We were training them to do adequate checkpoints, even how to handle their rifles properly, but you could see back then they were not interested. Anytime we rocked up to a checkpoint they were standing around and didn’t know where they were meant to be. It was frustrating.  

“You could spend two hours walking them through it, they would make out they were interested, but the moment we pulled off you’d look back and they’d all go and hide in their little tents. 

“We used to say they were just there for the money. It was scary, even back then we could see they'd had enough, the country has only ever known war for the last 100 years.

"It has never known peace. I think it got to the point they knew what was coming and couldn’t be bothered fighting the inevitable. We could see it then.” 

The explosion in which Andrew sustained his injuries occurred during his second tour, in March 2010, when the Mastiff armoured vehicle, which had been introduced to counter the threat of IEDs, was blown up – leaving six of its seven occupants with serious, life changing injuries and only the interpreter without any physical injuries. 

The National Wales: Andrew Inwood's armoured vehicle was hit by an IED during his second tour of Afghanistan. Picture: Andrew InwoodAndrew Inwood's armoured vehicle was hit by an IED during his second tour of Afghanistan. Picture: Andrew Inwood

The attack was typical of the Taliban’s tactics and Andrew says he and his comrades always felt the country would be vulnerable if western forces withdrew.

“They were waiting for us to pull out so they could rise up and start taking their country again," he said. 

“They wanted to blow us up so we would leave, that’s what we would say and I can remember having those conversations really well and that is exactly what has happened.” 

Despite his disappointment, Andrew said he can still look back and feel the military intervention made a difference to the lives of ordinary people. 

“There were times we would go to a village and our platoon commander would as the elders could we help in any way," he said. "We’d see the kids playing happily. 

“When we'd rock up they would be terrified and run for cover, but once they could see we were friendly and wanted to help it was okay, and you would see the children’s eyes light up. 

“I feel like we are leaving them to shoulder it all when we could see the hope. People want that better future not to be stuck in the dark ages and have to worry about their loves ones as they may have an opinion which could mean they’ll lose their live. It shouldn’t be like that at the end of the day.” 

The National Wales: A plane takes off at RAF Brize Norton today as the UK scrambles to get remaining UK nationals and their local allies out of Afghanistan following the dramatic fall of the country's Western-backed government to the Taliban. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA WireA plane takes off at RAF Brize Norton today as the UK scrambles to get remaining UK nationals and their local allies out of Afghanistan following the dramatic fall of the country's Western-backed government to the Taliban. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Since leaving the army, Andrew who joined up when he was 18 and unemployed, has been supported by the Welsh Veterans Partnership which supports ex-military personnel. 

Volunteer coordinator David Price said news in recent weeks of the country’s fall to the Taliban, culminating in it seizing control of Kabul this weekend, has triggered anxieties for veterans of the mission. 

“This last month referrals have probably gone up around 30 per cent,” said David, who estimates the partnership normally works with around 30 people a month. 

“We have family members ringing up to say, he has gone downhill, or is he drinking again or lost his job," he added. "It’s everyday incidents – someone will tell you’ve lost a war you didn’t know you were fighting, or you shouldn’t have been there anyway.” 

David, who is a military veteran himself, said UK forces had been constrained by their policing mission in Afghanistan, but the general public is unlikely to appreciate the differences between that and a conventional war situation. 

He said America’s long stated ambition to withdraw from Afghanistan had “shown their hand” to the Taliban. 

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