Britain has announced the deployment of 1,700 infantrymen to Afghanistan.

British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon has told parliament the additional British troops are needed because the threat "remains very high" from al-Qaida and Taleban fighters in Afghanistan.

Mr. Hoon said the United States had formally requested the troops for what will be Britain's biggest combat deployment since the 1991 Gulf War. "It is important that the House [of Commons] is under no illusions of what this might involve," he said. "These troops are being deployed to Afghanistan to take part in war-fighting operations. We will be asking them to risk their lives."

Mr. Hoon said the first troops will arrive in a few days, and the infantry brigade will be ready for combat operations by mid-April.