Friday, March 27, 2009

2,000 more British troops for Afstan?

The Chief of the General Staff says it could be done:
The head of the Army is ready to send up to 2,000 extra troops to Afghanistan amid fears that the US-led mission will struggle without significant reinforcements.

General Sir Richard Dannatt told The Times yesterday that elements of 12 Mechanised Brigade — which had been training for deployment to Iraq but were later stood down — had been “earmarked for Afghanistan”.

Downing Street is involved in discussions about a surge. An increase of about 2,000 would take Britain’s troop strength to 10,000 [emphasis added]. Any decision would require Cabinet approval...

General Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, said that there were no plans to send the whole brigade of about 4,000 troops, which would take the British presence to more than 12,000. He indicated that the increase, subject to political approval, could take the total to “somewhere in between” that figure and the present troop strength of 8,300. Defence sources said that a rise of 1,700 to 2,000 troops was viewed as “the uppermost ceiling”...

He added: “Improving security in Afghanistan will be dictated by having more boots on the ground. I don’t mind whether the boots will be American, British or Afghan.”

Afghanistan was going to be “a marathon campaign, not a sprint” and the members of the Armed Forces needed time off [emphasis added] after serving in two campaigns simultaneously, General Dannatt said. “They and their families must have a bit of a life [see this post of Babbling's].”

Mr Hutton [the Defence Secretary] also gave a broad hint in a speech yesterday that Britain was considering sending more troops. “We remain, as we have been on many occasions in this past century, grateful to the United States for the leadership that she has shown time and again since 2001 in rooting out extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan,” he said. “But Europe must do more, and it is in our interest to do more.”

A Ministry of Defence source said any decision would be based on advice from the military. “If the clear advice . . . is that we need more people to keep our troops safe, we will make a judgment based on this.”
The UK's population, it should be kept in mind, is less than twice Canada's. One wonders what senior people in Washington D.C., and London, think of the Leader of the Opposition:
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff praised Obama's strategy but then said that he doesn't want Canada's strategy in Afghanistan "to be defined by Washington."..
Numbers do count, Mr Ignatieff. Not that Mr Igantieff would advocate a greater Canadian military contribution, if that were even possible. And not that the Prime Minister's (so far) fairly firm commitment to ending our military mission in 2011 helps.


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