Friday, January 27, 2006

British going big in Afghanistan

From reader ghostcatbce comes this article in The Guardian. The British are increasing the number of troops heading for Afghanistan. The original number was expected to be in the neighbourhood of 4000 total. According to British defence secretary, John Reid, the British committment will now approach 6000 by the summer of this year.

The British will be joined by 2000 Canadian troops which have already started staging into Kandahar. They were to be joined by 1400 Netherlands soldiers although that deployment is no longer certain. Other troops may come from Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and Estonia.

Keeping the entire deployment in perspective:

An advance party of military intelligence officers is understood to have reported a dangerous mix of an opium poppy trade linked to warlords, and Taliban and al-Qaida fighters regrouping and switching to suicide bombing tactics.
There is some concern that the British and Canadian troops will have difficulty separating what are essentially two different missions. The American mission, Operation Enduring Freedom, is a different tasking than that given to NATO. The NATO forces will be involved in trying to suppress the poppy growing areas, quell the war lords and drive out the resurging Taliban.

The British already have 8500 troops in Iraq. Reid says they will not draw down those troops to support the Afghanistan mission.

Of course, the whole British armed forces could end up in the pot if this happens.

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