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Britain to Send More Troops to Afghanistan

  • Jennifer Glasse

Britain confirms an additional 500 British troops will be heading to Afghanistan next month, bringing its force level there to 9,500

Britain has confirmed an additional 500 British troops will be heading to Afghanistan in the next month, bringing its force level there to 9,500. Britain's prime minister also said other NATO nations have agreed to send more troops. The United States is expected to make an announcement Tuesday.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the decision to send 500 more troops to Afghanistan is about keeping Britain safe.

"As long as three-quarters of the most serious terrorist plots against Britain have links to those Pakistan-Afghan border areas, we should be failing in our duty if we did not work with our allies to deal with the problem where it starts. A more stable and more secure Afghanistan and Pakistan will help ensure a safer Britain," he said.

Even through al-Qaida is able to operate elsewhere in the world; including Somalia,Yemen and in internet chat rooms, Mr. Brown says Afghanistan is vitally important.

"As long as the Afghan-Pakistan border areas are the location of choice for al-Qaida and are the epicenter of global terrorism, it is the government's judgment that we must address the terrorist threat at its source," he added.

Britain is sending new equipment to support its troops, helicopters, armored vehicles, aerial surveillance drones and special bomb-disposal personnel. Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup is the head of British forces.

"Overall the force of about 9,500, which we are likely to have in December in Afghanistan will be better equipped, much higher levels than the force of 9,000 we had in August," said Stirrup.

With special forces, Britain will have more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Brown says the military surge is complimented by a political surge that is most of all an Afghan surge.

"The long-term security of Afghanistan is best secured by training the Afghan army and police, building up civilian government at a local, as well as national, level, and through economic development, giving Afghans a stake in their future," he said.

Mr. Brown says the NATO secretary general assured him other nations will be increasing their force levels too.

"In addition to the U.K. and U.S. - eight countries have already made offers of additional troops, and that other countries are likely to follow," Brown explained. "It is often said that America and Britain are fighting alone. This is wrong. Excluding America and Britain, the numbers of international troops, risen from in January 2007, 16,000 troops to around 30,000 soon," he said.

America's senior general in Afghanistan has reportedly asked U.S. President Barack Obama for up to 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama is scheduled to make an announcement about the U.S. Afghan strategy on Tuesday.

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