Britain to double number of troops in Afghanistan to help tackle fragile security
LONDON - The British government is planning to almost double the number of its troops in Afghanistan after a request from U.S. President Donald Trump for reinforcements to help tackle the fragile security situation there.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced the government will send an extra 440 troops, which would bring Britain’s total to about 1,100, to help Afghan troops fighting Taliban and Islamic State insurgents.
The extra troops will be taking part in a NATO-led training mission, called Resolute Support, to train and assist Afghan forces. They will be based in Kabul and will not be in a combat role. British troops ended combat operations in 2014.
The announcement comes the day before a NATO summit in Belgium that could turn contentious over U.S. President Donald Trump’s insistence that allies pay more for their defence.
Trump, who announced the United States would send thousands more troops to Afghanistan last year, has asked Britain and other NATO countries to send more reinforcements to the country.
“In committing additional troops to the Train Advise Assist operation in Afghanistan we have underlined once again that when NATO calls the UK is among the first to answer,” May said.
“NATO is as vital today as it ever has been and our commitment to it remains steadfast. The Alliance can rely on the UK to lead by example.”
The increase in British troops comes ahead of parliamentary elections in Afghanistan in October, which are seen as a crucial test for democracy in a country at war for four decades.
The extra British troops will initially come from the Welsh Guards, with around half arriving in August and the rest in February next year.