Cameron: begin troop withdrawal from Afghanistan now

Discussion in 'Afghanistan' started by Mr_C_Hinecap, May 12, 2011.

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  1. From the Telegraph today:

    Following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the Prime Minister is increasingly determined to start bringing the Afghan mission to an end. He has told defence chiefs he wants to start the withdrawal this summer, as the US begins to reduce its troop numbers.

    But British commanders have warned David Cameron that an early exit could jeopardise the counter-insurgency mission, allowing the Taliban to regain territory and popular support.

    As a compromise, defence chiefs have reluctantly drawn up plans to withdraw 450 of Britain's 10,000 troops from Afghanistan. Mr Cameron wants to agree their withdrawal with Barack Obama when he visits London later this month.

    The British troops could leave Afghanistan as soon as July, when the American withdrawal begins.

    But Whitehall sources said that defence chiefs, led by Gen Sir David Richards, the Chief of the Defence Staff, are still resisting Mr Cameron's calls to reduce the size of the current deployment.

    The chiefs are said to have told the Prime Minister that the "force density" of troops in central Helmand should not be reduced.

    The objections are expected to mean that no combat troops are withdrawn this year. Instead, talks in Whitehall are focusing on identifying "fat that can be trimmed" from the British deployment, such as cooks and administrative clerks who could leave this year without affecting the central mission.

    Those withdrawn are expected mostly to be non-combat personnel assigned to support roles at Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand. Personnel from the RAF Regiment based at the camp could also leave.

    It is understood that the Ministry of Defence had hoped to keep the summer troop withdrawal down to around 200. But Mr Cameron and his officials put pressure on defence chiefs to go further.

    One senior Whitehall official said: "There is a very active conversation going on. On the one side there is the military concern about force density and continuing the mission, and on the other side is the PM's political imperative for some sort of announcement on draw-down."

    Mr Cameron has already said that Britain's combat mission in Afghanistan must end by 2014, in time for the next general election.

    A government source said that the killing of bin Laden had increased Mr Cameron's "sense of urgency" about ending the Afghan mission.

    "The bottom line is he wants out, and soon. And at the end of the day, he's the Prime Minister, so he'll get what he wants," said the source. "The worry is he's being driven by politics not strategy."

    British troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001 and 364 have died. Western commanders say they are just starting to make progress against the Taliban.

    Signalling doubts about an early exit, Gen Richards yesterday told the Commons defence committee that the operation should be given more time before decisions are taken on a withdrawal. He said: "At my level, we are very clear that the strategy is sound and we must give it the opportunity to succeed."

    In evidence to the committee, the heads of all three Armed Services admitted that their forces were "stretched" and "running hot" fighting wars in Afghanistan and Libya.

    An MoD spokesman said: “President Karzai announced in March that the first phase of security transition in Afghanistan has started. This begins the process of a gradual transition which will be completed across the country by the end of 2014.

    "As the Prime Minister, Defence Secretary, and Chief of Defence Staff have said, troop reductions maybe possible in 2011 but no decisions have yet been taken. UK forces will no longer be in a combat role or in the present numbers in Afghanistan by 2015.”

    Trim the fat? Of course - we'll leave the PBI out there doing their own admin, cooking etc etc. Nothing like a planned transition, and this is nothing like a plan.
  2. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    It was bound to happen wasn't it. as soon as the bearded one was out of the way it becomes the fulcrum on which we lever our exit, stage left so we can get on Libya
  3. But if we leave, and don't achieve our original aim then people have died for nothing.
  4. What was the original aim then?
  5. CMD just wants to force the MOD to help balance the deficit. Less boots on the ground, less money being paid by the Exchequer, quicker we get the countries Finances back on track

    or it simply means , our guys get a small break before GW3 kicks off in Libya
  6. Is there an election happening or something?!.
  7. Well it may have changed a little .... remember this .....from John Reid the then part time (?) Minister for Defence in 2006

    “We hope we will leave Afghanistan without firing a single shot”
  8. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    The plan has been, for a good while now, complete withdrawal of combat forces by 2016.

    The only question has been - when will it start?

    The Government (and anyone with a basic grip of Logistics) think that this should be a gradual glide-path approach, starting small, yes, but starting now (or having started already). The Army top knobs are very keen indeed to keep as many people out there for as long as possible - a 'clliff-edge' approach with the cliff edge being reached in 2015 or 2016, rather than a gentle run-down.

    This underpinned a lot of Army strategy in the SDSR and PR11. Rundown of forces now means many things, all of which are to be feared by some. For example, if you know that there will not be a requirement for a certain Unit/Location/HQ to operate from 2015, then there is no need to train/maintain/equip Units to fulfil this role after that date. So you could, for example, reduce the number of Army personnel from well before then, as once they come back from a Tour, you know they will not be going back in two or three years, as is the case now - so they can be 'let go'.

    It means that the Army will face its SDSR cuts now/soon, as are the RN and RAF, rather than, as present, being allowed a Bye until 2015 (The army view being - well, something might turn up by then).

    Expect much propoganda about this from the PR machines :)
  9. Interesting to see that cooks, clerks and the RAF Regiment are considered the 'fat'. :)

    I agree with Old Snowy, as soon as we withdraw from Afghanistan the Army will again become the Junior Partner within the MOD.
  10. It would be interesting to see what the mod did with all the nice new shiny kit that was purchased for Afghanistan, keep it ?Or sell to the highest bidder because its "surplus".............and then of course have to lpo a load of technicals for Libya
  11. CMD's pathetic attempts at slowing government spending increases have now been negated by the Euro bail-out cash demands, so he needs to turn to his dwindling pot of family silver. Exiting Afghan not only eliminates the running costs, but also conveniently places the army on the chopping board. My bet is on the Army being reduced to c.60k within 5 years of any exit....
  12. Just sat in front of tv and someone quoted,
    "The Exchequer is empty, the fleet is derelict, there is no standing Army and Europe hates us"
    I started paying attention, right up to the point of focussing on who and in what context the sentence had come from
    Turned out it was a film about Elizabeth the 1st
    Strange how history keeps repeating itself.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. They will play a key role in the future of Afghanistan whether we pull out tomorrow or in 10 years time. As soon as ISAF forces leave many of the ANP and ANSF will switch allegiance. We can't even win at the moment so what chance have the ANSF got once we pull out? It's just a pity that all the blokes have died and been seriously injured for nothing but that was always on the cards anyway.

  14. Withams are going to be doing a roaring trade.

    Welcome to MOD Sales Online - Military Vehicles for Sale - Ex MOD Land Rovers for Sale

    I would imagine Karzi is already shitting himself and planning his exit strategy as we speak

    Too bloody true.
  15. And what really fecks me right off is that after expending huge sums of blood and treasure on a war I consider both just and winnable........none of the politicians or senior armed forces commanders involved will be held to account for the complte goat-feck than resulted. Worse our higher commands and civi leadership seem to have no ability to learn from our mistakes and although the teeth arms are in fantastic shape and our servicemen and women have performed brilliantly I see no sign that the second we leave theatre this wont be thrown out in a rush to save money and it'll be back to how we were pre 9/11 in short order.

    Its a crying shame and various politicians should face trial.