News / Europe

London Closely Watching Obama’s Afghanistan Moves

President Barack Obama (file photo)
President Barack Obama (file photo)
Henry Ridgwell

President Obama is expected to outline his plans for beginning the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan on Wednesday. Britain also wants to withdraw its troops as soon as possible and the government will be listening closely to the US strategy. But there are concerns that an early pullout could reverse the gains made against the Taliban.

Britain has close to 10,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan and has spent billions of dollars on the mission since it started nearly a decade ago.

The government here will be listening closely to President Obama’s plans for a US withdrawal, says former soldier turned defense commentator Crispin Black.

“Certainly the prime minister, as far as it can be ascertained in public, wants to bring British troops back from Afghanistan as soon as he can - and not just in the usual way that they say they’re going to do that," Black said. "It looks like he’s serious and has warned military commanders that he intends to reduce the numbers as soon as he can.”

However, many of those commanders are warning publically and privately that a premature troop withdrawal by the U.S. and Britain would put the gains made in Afghanistan during the last decade at risk.

“By committing their countries to a withdrawal of combat capability by the end of 2014 there already is a risk being taken that the gains made would be reversed, and the only way to find out whether that’s the case is to try it," noted professor Malcolm Chalmers, from analyst group the Royal United Services Institute. "So I think the prudent thing to do is to start the process of reductions this year and in 2012 and see where we go as we go along - not least in terms of the Afghan military capability.”

The church bell tolls in the English town of Wootton Bassett as the body of another soldier killed in Afghanistan is flown back to the nearby airbase. In total 330 British servicemen and women have been killed in action since 2001. Opinion polls show the British public would welcome a troop withdrawal.

The British government says it is in the country’s interest to help create a stable Afghanistan.

Defense commentator Crispin Black believes Britain is fighting there because of its trans-Atlantic allegiance.

“In a sense one of the arguments for being in Afghanistan is we were executing an obligation to help our American allies," Black said. "That’s always seemed to me one of the stronger arguments for being there. But if the Americans are now deciding themselves, ‘Listen, this is not going to end in a victory, we’re going to talk to the Taliban, we’re going to reduce our troop numbers,’ even if it’s just reducing the surge they had recently, why therefore do we need to remain there to continue executing our obligation?"

Earlier this week a senior British navy official voiced his concerns that the military could not sustain its current commitments indefinitely. The British air force, the RAF, is playing a key role in the NATO operations against Colonel Gadhafi’s forces in Libya.

“The RAF of course is also deployed in Afghanistan so it’s a case of doing several things at once," said defense analyst Professor Malcolm Chalmers. "It’s also I think - there’s always a question, ‘What happens if something else turns up which is perhaps more important than Libya and you simply don’t have anything left in the locker?’”

At a time of military spending cuts, analysts say the start of a British withdrawal from Afghanistan would be welcomed in London’s political circles. But on the tough terrain of the Afghan battlefield, there is concern among the military that the Taliban could rapidly regain lost ground.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid