Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Brit Afstan round-up

New troops, more troops (?), and more controversty between a brass hat (retired) and frock coats.

1) New UK brigade at Helmand:
A soldier who had just arrived in Afghanistan for a six-month tour has been killed, the Ministry of Defence announced yesterday.

He is the first infantry soldier to die from 11 Light Brigade which is in the process of replacing 19 Light Brigade in Helmand province.

The soldier from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards was killed by an improvised explosive device which was detonated while he was on foot patrol near Nad e-Ali district centre in central Helmand on Monday.

The Grenadier Guards have taken over from the Welsh Guards in Nad e-Ali which used to be a Taleban stronghold until Brigadier Tim Radford, commander of 19 Light Brigade (the Black Panthers) launched Operation Panther’s Claw in July and August. The push was aimed at driving the insurgents out of the densely populated parts of central Helmand [more on the Brits in Helmand since 2006 here]...

Brigadier Cowan, who served as a senior commander in Iraq, takes over from Brigadier Radford in Helmand on Saturday.

He is expected to focus his main effort in central Helmand, consolidating the gains achieved by 19 Light Brigade in Panther’s Claw.

However, other key areas, especially Sangin and Musa Qala in the north of the province, are likely to remain hotspots. The number of British casualties in Sangin has risen after the Taleban switched their attention away from central Helmand to the northern towns.

The latest British death takes the total since 2001 to 220, all but five of them since 2006...
2) More troops looking more likely:
Plan to send 500 more troops for Afghanistan amid Dannatt row with No 10

The former head of the Army found himself embroiled in a dispute with Downing Street yesterday over troop numbers in Afghanistan. General Sir Richard Dannatt, who retired from the Army in August, confirmed that he had asked for 2,000 more troops in March and that Gordon Brown had rejected his advice and offered only 700 [more here].

The general’s public confirmation of the Downing Street spat emerged as ministers begin to consider a new option from the military.

This is expected to lead to another 500 troops being sent to Afghanistan, taking the total to more than 9,500.

The Army has drawn up plans to send up to 1,000, but Whitehall sources indicated that the reinforcement was likely to be closer to 500.

Downing Street reacted to General Dannatt’s latest pronouncements — in an interview with The Sun [see below] — by denying that the Prime Minister had dismissed military advice.

“Any suggestion that the Prime Minister has been unwilling to deploy more troops or provide the necessary resources is simply wrong,” a spokesman said.

“The key point here is that there were 7,800 troops in Afghanistan in the summer of 2007. Now there are over 9,000.”

Bill Rammell, the Armed Forces Minister, entered the row by saying that ministers were not bound to follow military advice but had to take a “broader view” [more on broader views here]...

Despite Downing Street’s insistence that General Dannatt’s advice had not been dismissed, Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, on a visit to Islamabad, effectively confirmed that the option to send 2,000 had been rejected.

“We have to consider the fact that we’ve got to equip the troops to do the job,” he said, a reference to the wait for armoured vehicles to protect them...
3) Gen. (ret'd) Dannatt:
Dannatt blast at ‘pathetic’ ministers

GORDON Brown refused a major troop reinforcement in Afghanistan this year - AGAINST military chiefs' advice, former Army boss General Sir Richard Dannatt sensationally confirmed yesterday [Oct. 5].

The Helmand force was left to fight on with "part of one arm" tied behind their back when the plea for 2,000 extra soldiers was turned down.

Sir Richard's bombshell outburst will be an intense embarrassment for Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has previously promised Our Boys "whatever they want".

Hugely popular Sir Richard told for the first time how he was left "disappointed" with ministers' support. And he blasted Government plotters who tried to SMEAR his name when he was Chief of the General Staff.

He branded them "pathetic" for sneakily trying to tarnish his reputation rather than addressing key issues such as manpower and equipment...
The brass hat:

General Sir Richard Dannatt
General Sir Richard Dannatt Photo: PA


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