More UK troops sent to Afghanistan


More UK troops sent to Afghanistan

Hundreds of extra British troops have been sent to Afghanistan, it was revealed on Saturday, as Prime Minister Gordon Brown flew in to visit forces on the frontline.

Reinforcements, numbering "in the low hundreds", from a Cyprus-based stand-by contingent have been called into action by commanders, a Government source said.

The boost in numbers from 8,100, completed over the last few weeks, is believed to be part of a shift of strategy towards providing a wider geographical security cover ahead of Afghan presidential elections due next autumn.

The Prime Minister met soldiers in the southern Helmand province in the frontline of the battle with the Taliban, who have this year switched their attack from close combat to more guerrilla-style tactics such as roadside bombs.

The revelation of the increase in troop numbers comes as Mr Brown leads a review of the UK's strategy in the country, which could result in more being sent next year.

Pressure for that will mount in January when Barack Obama, who has made the conflict a top priority and said he will send extra US forces to help "destroy" al Qaida, takes over from George Bush as US President.

Mr Brown has repeatedly criticised allies for failing to share the burden and called on them to play a bigger role.

After visiting the troops, he travelled to the capital, Kabul, for talks with President Hamid Karzai.

There have been growing hints that the UK could increase its contribution, not least from the head of the Armed Forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup.

He warned, however, that the military could not cope with simply switching the 4,000 forces due to be pulled out of Iraq in the first half of next year to Afghanistan.
300 more UK troops head to Afghanistan

By James Tapsfield, PA
Monday, 15 December 2008

Britain is to boost troop levels in Afghanistan by 300, Gordon Brown confirmed today.

The Prime Minister said he was following the advice of commanders on the ground by authorising the increase until August.

The move will lift the total UK presence in the country from just over 8,000 to 8,300, Mr Brown told MPs.

But he insisted other countries also needed to play their part in the Nato-led campaign.

"Forty-one countries are involved in the Nato mission but the burden is not always shared equally," he said.

"It is vital that all members of the coalition contribute fairly."

Mr Brown's statement to the Commons came after he visited Afghanistan over the weekend, holding talks with president Hamid Karzai and meeting British troops.

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