When war in Afghanistan comes to Whitehall

When war in Afghanistan comes to Whitehall
The Government's dithering is having a drastic effect on the morale of our troops in Afghanistan – and on their chance of success, says Con Coughlin.

By Con Coughlin
Published: 7:14AM BST 07 Oct 2009

Gordon Brown meeting British soldiers in Afghanistan in August Photo: PA
For the past four weeks the officers and men of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards have been waiting nervously at their Aldershot barracks for the order to deploy to Afghanistan. They have undergone months of training in preparation for one of the toughest challenges in the regiment's illustrious 400-year history – taking on the Taliban in the killing fields of southern Afghanistan.
When it was announced in the spring that the Coldstreamers were heading off for their second tour of duty in Helmand, they were told to be ready to depart for Afghanistan in mid-September. In several cases, young Guardsmen cut short their honeymoons to be back in Aldershot ready to deploy; like most soldiers, they want to get on with the job they have been trained for. But September has come and gone and the Guards are still kicking their heels in Aldershot because Downing Street cannot make up its mind whether to go ahead with the deployment.
In the meantime, it was announced yesterday that the Light Dragoons, who have been involved in some of the fiercest fighting against the Taliban since British forces deployed to Helmand three years ago, have been ordered to stay a month longer than was originally planned while Gordon Brown decides what troop levels he is prepared to sanction in the months to come.

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