United States to send 'up to 45,000 more troops to Afghanistan'


Oct 8, 2009
United States to send 'up to 45,000 more troops to Afghanistan' - Telegraph

President Barack Obama's administration is understood to have told the British government that it could announce, as early as next week, the substantial increase to its 65,000 troops already serving there.

The decision from Mr Obama comes after he considered a request from General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, to send tens of thousands of extra American troops to the country.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said: "I don't want to put words in the mouths of the Americans but I am fairly confident of the way it is going to come out."

An announcement next week could coincide with a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Bratislava, Slovakia, due next Thursday and Friday.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed the claims, after President Obama met with his war council for the fifth time to map out a new strategy in Afghanistan.

"I would not put any weight behind the fact that a decision has been made, when the President has yet to make a decision," he told reporters in Washington.

"I've seen the report. It's not true, either generally or specifically. The president has not made a decision."

But Ministry of Defence sources indicated that the British Government had been told to expect a substantial increase in the number of of American troops.

Earlier Gordon Brown announced the British force in Afghanistan would increase to 9,500 but was told by former defence secretary John Hutton that he should have sent more troops to Afghanistan six months ago.

Mr Hutton said it would have been “much more helpful” to the British mission if the Prime Minister had listened to military calls for a larger force earlier this year.

Mr Brown previously blocked a military request for almost 2,000 extra troops for Afghanistan.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the former Army chief who is now advising the Conservatives, said that decision left the force fighting with “part of one arm tied behind its back”.

Mr Hutton was defence secretary at the time of the earlier troop request. He resigned from the Cabinet in June.

He made it clear that he wanted the earlier deployment plan to go ahead and suggested that blocking it had undermined the British mission. The Prime Minister “should follow the military advice”, Mr Hutton said. “I think it would have been much more helpful had we had the additional troops there six months ago.”

Defence sources disputed this view, insisting that there were not enough trained troops to deploy at the time.

But Mr Hutton’s words overshadowed Mr Brown’s announcement in the Commons that he would increase the force in Afghanistan, taking British numbers there to 9,500.

As The Daily Telegraph reported last week, a total of 1,000 more British soldiers will go to Helmand province. Five hundred will be new troops from Britain. The remainder is a British battle group currently deployed in Kandahar province under international command.

The Prime Minister said the Kandahar battle group was being redeployed “to meet the changing demands of the campaign, which require greater concentration of our forces in central Helmand”.

He said he supported the new deployments “in principle”, saying that before the troops could be sent, certain conditions must be met. Those terms were that soldiers were properly equipped, that the Afghan government promised more forces to Helmand and that Nato allies bore more of the burden in Afghanistan.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, mocked Mr Brown’s “condition”.

He said: “Won’t many people think: isn’t it the Government’s responsibility to make sure they have that necessary equipment? And might they also ask: why is it that after eight years we are still playing catch-up on equipment?”

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