A Conservative government would increase British troop numbers in Afghanistan by up to 2,500 and deliver more helicopters, armoured vehicles and âother key battlefield enablersâ, the Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox indicated today. Claiming that continued British involvement in Afghanistan was a ânational security imperativeâ, Dr Fox told an audience at the International Institute for Strategic Studies: âA Conservative government would be sympathetic to a request for an increase in the number of British troops to help expedite the training of Afghan security forces.â US officials indicated that 2,000 to 2,500 British troops would âsubstantially speed upâ the training of the Afghan National Army in a request that was rejected by the Government earlier this year. Tory officials said that a Conservative government would be "very sympathetic" to a repeat of the request. âAbove all,â Dr Fox said, âthe British Government must ensure that our troops are properly equipped for the crucial operations they are involved in, including the earliest possible increase in the number of helicopters, armoured vehicles and other key battlefield enablers.â Related Links * British army wants mini-surge in Afghanistan * General backs call for surge in Afghanistan * Lessons of history: Aghan defiance lives on Multimedia * INTERACTIVE: British fatalities * Afghanistan war: special series British commanders in Helmand have asked the Government for a "mini-surge" in UK forces in the province to help to train the Afghan Army. This follows additional pressure on troop numbers as a result of Operation Pantherâs Claw in central districts of Helmand. About 3,000 British troops are committed to holding ground cleared during that operation. General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander of Nato troops in Afghanistan, says that he requires a "bridging force" of up to 40,000 extra troops from the US and its Nato allies to build the Afghan Army and police forces to 400,000 by 2013. In an indication of the attitude a Tory government would take to Afghanistan, Dr Fox attacked the Governmentâs failure âto define our objectives in national security termsâ or to resource British forces adequately. He warned that a failure in Afghanistan would be a âshot in the armâ for jihadists around the world and would âincrease threats to the United Kingdom tomorrow". âBe under no illusions â it would fuel latent fundamentalist sentiment within the UK, and other European countries,â he said. He also warned that the future of Nato, Pakistani security and wider regional stability in South Asia were all tied to the success of the mission in Afghanistan. "Failure is not an option," he said. The Conservatives would support plans to develop local auxiliary forces, Dr Fox said. The formation of local militias remains a controversial idea, though a project called the Afghan Public Protection Programme is being piloted in Wardak province. The programme attempts to replicate the highly successful "Sons of Iraq" militia force that was co-opted from Sunni insurgent groups to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq. âIâm in no position to work out the mechanics here today for what a similar programme could look like in Helmand but I do know that one would be hard pressed to give an example of a counter-insurgency campaign that has been successful without using local auxiliary forces,â he said. Indicating future Tory government support for a long-term commitment to the Afghan mission, Dr Fox said: âOf course, as a politician and especially as Shadow Defence Secretary, I would love to be able to tell the electorate, our brave servicemen and women, and their families that we will leave by a predetermined date and that their sacrifices will soon end. But this would be sadly untrue and it would be irresponsible to do this if we are genuine about the national security implications facing us. It may get worse before it gets better.â http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6852695.ece ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Interesting article, especially considering the comments. Could this possible lead to a big reduction in the tory vote at the election especially if theres any more big loss's for us out there? Regardless of that it's good to see them actually saying (whether they do it or not is another story) they'll do what the commanders on the ground say they want and need.