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UK to send more troops to Afghanistan

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 2, IRNA
UK Troops-Afghanistan
Britain is to increase its military presence in southern Afghanistan by about 800 troops to 5,800, Defense Secretary Des Browne announced Thursday.

But Browne said the UK's overall deployment in Afghanistan will only increase by 300 because the military is also reducing its presence in Kabul by 500 personnel.

In a written statement to parliament, he also said that Harrier GR7 and GR9 jets, Apache attack helicopters, Viking all-terrain vehicles and Royal Engineer support units which are currently stationed in Helmand will remain there until April 2009.

Last week, the British commander of the 32,000-strong NATO forces in Afghanistan warned that a yearlong concerted military campaign with more troops was needed 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.

The troops announcement, which is to take effect later this summer, included confirmation that commandos will be replaced by units mainly drawn from a mechanized brigade.

Britain's presence in the capital Kabul is set to be reduced this weekend as it hands over command of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to the US.

It has also been reported that the British Foreign Office is to carry out a major overhaul of its mission in Afghanistan by replacing its current ambassador after less than a year and appointing a senior diplomat in Helmand Province.

The government has been expected to focus more and more on Afghanistan with hopes that Britain's military involvement in Iraq will decline by the middle part of this year.


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