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More troops needed to defeat Taliban, warns British general

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Jan 22, IRNA
UK Commander-Afghanistan
The British commander of the 32,000-strong Nato forces in Afghanistan warned Monday that a year-long concerted military campaign with more troops was need to secure victory against the Taliban.

"We should and can win in Afghanistan but we need to put more military effort into the country. We must apply ourselves more energetically for one more year in order to win," General David Richards told the Guardian newspaper.

Richards said Nato troops had frustrated the Taliban's plans to mount a winter campaign for the first time but that it had been "against the odds" and because of "exceptionally skilled and brave fighting."

His warning comes after members of the transatlantic alliance have been reluctant to supply troops and Britain's owned armed forces are overstretched due to fighting a second war in Iraq.

The British commander expressed his exasperation that the dependence on fewer military resources would continue for what is the alliance's first military deployment outside the organisation's borders.

"I am concerned that Nato nations will assume the same level of risk in 2007, believing they can get away with it. They might, but it's a dangerous assumption to believe the same ingredients will exist this year as they did last," he said.

The military is "hugely frustrated" by not being given the power and money to orchestrate the campaign while civilian colleagues engaged in reconstruction are not "geared up" to serve in the "energetic manner" needed, he said.

The general also criticised Britain's Department for International Development (DfID), warning that it would take a long time to eradicate Afghanistan's opium poppies, the source of much of the heroin reaching British streets.

"I will not conceal our frustration with the speed of DfID's delivery on the ground and an occasional reluctance to join with us as necessary planning partners," he said.

Richards, who is being replaced by an American commander next month, issued a stark warning when Britain took control of the operations last July that western forces there were short of equipment and was "running out of time" in Afghanistan.


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