David Trayner — Daily Star July 9, 2016
Some will join the counter-terrorism mission, some will join the NATO support team and others will train Afghan army officers at an academy dubbed “Sandhurst in the sand”.
The shock announcement comes after David Cameron announced British troops would be sent to Eastern Europe to stop Vladimir Putin invading.
The new deployment of 50 squaddies will join 450 British troops who never left when the UK’s combat mission officially finished, in October 2014.
Those 450 troops were due to return home at the end of this year – but will now remain in the country until at least 2017.
The move will be seen as another setback for David Cameron as he nears the end of his time as Prime Minister.
He had hoped to end Britain’s lengthy military involvement in Afghanistan.
The beleaguered PM, who is in Poland for a NATO summit, said it was essential that NATO continued “to work with the Afghan government and the Afghan security forces to help keep terrorists out of that country”.
British officials stressed that the UK personnel would be engaged in “training and mentoring” – and would not take part in combat operations against the Taliban.
One official said: “It is not mission creep because they are not engaged in a combat capacity.
“They are engaged in training and mentoring.”
Britain will also continue to bankroll the flaky Afghan security forces to a tune of £70million a year until at least 2020.
Cameron has also committed an extra top-up of £178million to the Afghan government – which he himself described as one of the most corrupt on Earth.
A British Government source said: “It is a reflection of the fact that there is still a job to be done in Afghanistan.
“While they have made tremendous strides in recent years, it is clear that they still need our support.
“Not in a combat capacity – but in a NATO mission capacity of training and mentoring and generally improving their means of operation.”
The new deployment follows the announcement by Barack Obama that he is to keep the remaining 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan for the remainder of his presidency – further slowing the draw-down of American forces.