Brown calling for a bigger Afghan army

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  1. Brown calling for a bigger Afghan army

    Published Date: 23 September 2009
    By Martha Linden and Lara Jakes

    GORDON BROWN insisted yesterday that government policy is to build up the Afghan army as it was reported that Britain is planning to send up to 1,000 extra troops to the country to meet the call for reinforcements made by a US commander.

    The Prime Minister paid tribute to the work and successes of the British Army in the country, saying that the lives of "great soldiers" had been lost in the last few months as a result of guerrilla warfare tactics by the Taleban.

    "Our policy is that the Afghan army is built up and the Afghan police start to take control and that the Afghan local people start taking more responsibility for their lives," he told GMTV.

    His words came as the White House stressed that it is considering a range of options in Afghanistan, from sharply increasing US ground forces in the country to stepping up aerial attacks on al-Qaeda-linked targets in neighbouring Pakistan, or a combination of the two.

    The top US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has warned in a confidential report that the situation in Afghanistan is growing worse.

    President Barack Obama has so far not endorsed General McChrystal's approach, saying in television interviews that he needs to be convinced that sending more troops would make Americans safer from al-Qaeda.

    White House officials have made clear that Pakistan, where the US cannot send troops, should be the top concern since that is where top al-Qaeda leaders are believed to be hiding.