British Prime Minister Gordon Brown staunchly defended his government's
Afghanistan policy and said troops would stay until Afghan forces can
go it alone to defend the country. The prime minister's comments come amid rising casualties among
British troops in Afghanistan and growing unease at home about the
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Britain's military
action in Afghanistan remains crucial in fighting terrorism and keeping
Britain and its allies safe from further terrorist attacks.
at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Mr.
Brown said Britain cannot walk away. He said British troops would stay
on in Afghanistan for the time being, but promised increased emphasis
on training the Afghan military and police to take over responsibility
"We will have succeeded when our troops are coming
home because the Afghans are doing the job themselves," said the
British prime minister.
Britain has more than 9,000 troops in
Afghanistan about one third of them involved in anti-insurgency
operations in Helmand province. And it's there that an increasing
number of soldiers are being killed on an almost daily basis, many by
The rising death toll has caused unease at home
in Britain and has sparked growing criticism of the government's
handling of the war.
On Thursday, a close aide to British
Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth resigned in protest over the war. The
aide, Eric Joyce, said he did not believe the public would continue to
accept fighting terrorism as justification for British soldiers dying
Prime Minister Brown acknowledged the price has
been high. He said that when he meets the families of those killed in
action, or soldiers who've been injured he does ask himself if the
government is doing the right thing.
"And every time I ask
myself, as I do, these questions my answer is yes, we are taking the
right action, the action that is necessary to safeguard both our
country and promote security in the world," said the prime minister.
said Britain was right to go to war to topple the Taliban and their al
Qaida allies in 2001. He acknowledged that the situation today is
serious with threats emanating from insurgents inside Afghanistan as
well as from across the border in the mountains of Pakistan. But, he
insisted that a secure Afghanistan is crucial for the safety of Britain.
Despite such arguments, opinion polls show waning public support for the war in both Britain and the United States.