Prime Minister Gordon Brown has hailed the British offensive in
Afghanistan's Helmand province a success. But that call is getting a
mixed reception as the British public grows weary of the country's
For the past five weeks, British forces have been clearing the
territory between Lashkar Gah and Girishk in Afghanistan's Helmand
Province. Nine British soldiers have died in the operation dubbed
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is pleased with the results.
that Operation Panther's Claw has shown that it can bring success and
the first phase of that operation is over, it is time to commemorate
all those soldiers who have given their lives and to thank all our
British soldiers for the determination, the professionalism and the
courage that they have been showing," said Mr. Brown.
facing a skeptical public, the British leader reiterated his contention
that fighting in Afghanistan is necessary to keep Britain safe.
we have actually done is make the land secure for about 100,000
people. What we have done is pushed back the Taliban and what we have
done also is start to break that chain of terror that links the
mountains of Afghanistan and in Pakistan to the streets of Britain," Mr. Brown said.
international security expert Paul Cornish from the Chatham House in
London says it is too early to call the British operation in Helmand
province a success. Securing the land he says is one thing, holding it
"They have gone through
the past month or so of very hard effort to reach the point where they
can begin to consolidate and control ground that they have won so, by
no means this is over yet.... The effort has been to squeeze the
Taliban out of certain areas and the challenge now is to hold those
areas and maintain dominance of those areas that is surely what the
whole operation has been, has been all about," Cornish said.
talk of what success is and how to define it went on in London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told NATO colleagues
in Brussels that the current operations should be seen as an opportunity to bring
moderate Taliban members into the political process.
nearly 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, but few alliance members
wholeheartedly support the deployment, with many questioning what the
North Atlantic alliance is doing there in the first place.