The rapid escalation in war deaths in Afghanistan reminds us of the continuing risks and sacrifices of British service personnel.
There is only one year since the Second World War when our forces have not been engaged in military conflict.
The scale of casualties at present is not on the same as that of the two world wars. Yet the fact that the casualties can be individually identified adds to the impact. Today's wars are also ones that the Government has chosen to engage in rather than battles for national survival, so the sacrifice is more controversial.
Unlike the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan was widely supported. The use of Afghanistan as an Al Qaeda base and the abuses of the appalling Taliban meant there were initially few opponents of the war. But that was eight years ago, and the aims have kept changing ever since.
The war is not going well. Poor equipment is being blamed but there are deeper problems. The Afghan government is deeply corrupt and unpopular and the recent election was rigged. The question arises as to what British troops are risking their lives for. Unless the Afghan government cleans up its act, quickly,the case for withdrawal will become irresistible.
There is a bigger question. The poor state of public finances means cuts in defence spending. Frontline troops must not be deprived of basic equipment and protection, decent housing and health provision, while serving and after demobilisation.
So other defence commitments will have to be scaled back to what we can afford - hence scrapping Trident and other programmes. Whatever happens, we must honour the Military Covenant to look after those who risk their lives for the rest of us.