News Brief – September 17, 2006
In an interview published this morning, the commander of British forces in Afghanistan told London’s Sunday Times that British troops could be there for up to ten years.
According to Brigadier Ed Butler: “I don’t think there’s any doubt we will be here for a considerable time. There will need to be training teams and embedded officers for 10 years or so.”
The decision to send men into the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province came after Baghran district centre was overrun by the Taliban.
“The governor [of Helmand] was concerned, and the Afghan government was concerned, that northern Helmand was about to fall to the Taliban,” said Butler.
The British have met stiff resistance from the Taliban in the province. Fifteen British servicemen have been killed since deploying to Helmand’s frontline bases, described by many soldiers as “hellholes”.
Meanwhile its been revealed that Briton is considering sending still more troops to Afghanistan after Nato allies failed to respond to a call for reinforcements.
In the face of a resurgent Taliban, commanders on the ground warned that lack of reinforcements for an autumn offensive could jeopardise the entire Afghanistan campaign.
It is understood that the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Rangers or the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment are all under consideration for deployment.
The Canadians, also taking losses in the Kandahar region, are believed to be reinforcing their contingents with troops as well as 15 Leopard tanks.
Nato forces in Afghanistan are also said to be in need of more helicopters too. Land convoys are regularly ambushed, and even a routine re-supplying run now needs full battle-group protection. However, the British military says that it has no helicopters to spare.
Last updated 19/09/2006