British commanders call for more troops to stave off Taliban victory

Senior British commanders are to warn ministers that unless thousands more troops are sent to Afghanistan the Taliban will win back control of the country.

They are recommending a rapid reduction in the 4,000 troops in Iraq so that more can go to Afghanistan. American and British commanders in Afghanistan want an Iraq-style surge “within months” to fend off a Taliban victory before next year’s presidential election there.

One senior officer said the Taliban were now operating in areas where they had not been since the allied invasion in 2001.

“Unless the West commits serious numbers of extra troops soon, we are looking at a Taliban victory,” another officer said.


British officers fear that having been accused of failing in Iraq, they will face a second defeat caused solely by the failure to provide sufficient troops.

They have already begun lobbying to persuade Gordon Brown to back the idea of a surge. The prime minister, however, is looking for a “peace dividend” from the Iraq withdrawal that would cut the £1.7 billion annual cost of the two operations.

Des Browne, the defence secretary, ordered his officials last week to deny that there were any plans to send more troops. Nato chiefs in Afghanistan, however, including General David McKiernan, the American commander, and his British deputy, Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley, are “screaming out” for more troops, sources said.

They see the presidential election as a strategic “tipping point” and are concerned that worsening security will make it impossible to hold a meaningful vote. They are said to be backed by senior British officers in charge of planning Afghanistan operations, including Lieutenant-General Nick Houghton, chief of joint operations.

Browne insisted last week that he had always increased troop numbers when asked by commanders, pointing to a 230-man increase in June. Commanders say that is nowhere near enough.

One senior officer said: “We can beat them face to face; we just can’t be everywhere, and that has allowed them to gain ground.”

– Troops flying home from Iraq and Afghanistan face delays after it emerged that two of the RAF’s three Tristar C2 transport aircraft have to be taken out of service so that cracks in their wing flaps can be repaired. The Ministry of Defence insisted it can maintain an “air bridge” by civilian charter.

Comments:

I hope the democractic criminals of PPP and PML N withdraw their support for war on terror. Let US get sucked into a bitter war. Pakistan military has been betrayed by its allies in the west. Hope yo will enjoy Taliban supporter Nawaz Sharif back in power,

Ali, Islamabad, Pakistan

Why shouldn’t they win? It’s their country and the US/UK has no right to occupy it. Despite the West’s characterization of Afghan insurgents and crazed religious fanatics, they are nationalistic just like any other people, plus they believe themselves invincible because they defeated the Soviets.

Paul Wolf, Washington DC, USA

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