The UK will deploy 500 extra troops to Afghanistan, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced today, Monday 30 November 2009.
Last month Mr Brown agreed to increase UK troops in Afghanistan by 500 so long as troops are fully equipped for their tasks, the Afghan Government is ready to provide more troops for training, and all coalition partners bear their fair share of the burden.
In a statement to the House of Commons today Mr Brown said that all these conditions had been met and that the extra 500 troops will be deployed in early December, taking the number of British troops in Afghanistan to 9,500.
The 500 extra troops will be drawn from 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh.
Mr Brown said that he has had assurances that soldiers would be fully equipped, that several other countries in the coalition will also provide additional troops, and that thousands of members of the new Afghan National Army Corps will be deployed to Helmand to work alongside coalition forces.
Mr Brown said the additional troops will bring security to the Afghan people, strengthen the local and national government, and support the Afghan army and police to take over responsibility for security. He continued:
“We are ensuring as best we can the safety of our forces. We are today setting benchmarks for Afghanistan to meet. In the last few months we have worked hard to achieve a stronger military presence across the coalition, with a more equal sharing of the burden.
“And, in all we do, we will never forget this fundamental truth of the military campaign – that keeping the streets of our country free from terrorism is our utmost responsibility and that for a safe Britain we need a stable Afghanistan.”
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said:
“The deployment of 500 extra troops to Afghanistan will help us drive forward the very real progress UK forces are making in building a safe and secure Afghanistan, protecting the UK from the threat of terrorism.
“Putting more British boots on the ground in central Helmand will allow us to thicken our presence and accelerate the training of Afghan forces. This is an important part of a multi-national contribution to the Afghan mission. In Helmand our forces will be working alongside the US, Estonians and Danes.
“Our people continue to operate in challenging and dangerous conditions in Afghanistan, making sacrifices to support the wider political process that is so critical to success.
“Working alongside President Karzai and our international partners, we now need to move to the next phase in beating the insurgents, speeding up the recruitment and training of the Afghan security forces, and building safe and secure Afghan communities.”
Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, said:
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of an increase to our force levels; this meets the needs of our operational commanders and underlines our commitment, alongside our coalition partners, to succeed in Afghanistan.
“This troop uplift will allow us to strengthen and deepen security for the people of Afghanistan in the UK area of operations whilst allowing us to accelerate the development of Afghan National Security Forces who remain the long term solution for the security of Afghanistan.”
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