26/02/2007

Extra troops announced for Afghanistan

The UK is to send around 1,400 additional troops to southern Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Des Browne has announced.

This additional force will bring the total number of UK forces in Afghanistan to around 7,700. The British troops are part of a larger Nato force.

Nato's senior military commander, Saceur, called for reinforcements in the south and the east of Afghanistan at a recent meeting in Seville in Spain.

The UK will provide a manoeuvre battalion for Regional Command (South), an area which covers Helmand, the base and responsibility of the existing UK taskforce, but also the strategically vital neighbouring province of Kandaharm plus the further provinces of Oruzgan, Zabol, Nimruz and Daykondi.

The battlegroup will comprise elements of an infantry battalion, augmented with a company of Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles and additional artillery units, as well as four more Harrier GR9s to provide close air support, four Sea King helicopters and another C-130 Hercules.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Browne said: "I have said repeatedly that there is no purely military solution to Afghanistan's problems. But unless we can help bring security to all its people and convince them that the elected government, with our support, will defeat the Taliban, then everything else they and we have achieved in Afghanistan will remain at risk. That is a risk we cannot afford to take - for the sake of Afghanistan and the sake of our own security."

The announcement follows Prime Minister Tony Blair's revelation that British troops in Iraq would be reduced by 1,600.

(KMcA/EF)


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