From The Sunday Times November 22, 2009 Afghan pullout is âelection ployâ by Gordon Brown Michael Smith GORDON BROWN has ordered defence chiefs to find a way of pulling some troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2010, according to senior defence sources. They say he wants to be able to tell voters before the expected election in May that a partial troop withdrawal will begin by Christmas next year. The move will be justified on the grounds that British soldiers will be handing over areas of Helmand province to Afghan troops, say the sources. It is designed to wrong-foot the Tories and capitalise on opinion polls which show that more than 70% of the public are opposed to keeping British forces in Afghanistan. Defence chiefs are dismayed. General Sir David Richards, the new head of the army, has repeatedly warned that British troops will need to remain in Afghanistan for a long time. Richards told the BBC last month that troop numbers would not begin to come down until at least 2014 and even this was âan ambitious targetâ. More www.timesonline.co.uk/...27012.ece?