Tuesday, 6 October 2009

More troops? Don't hold your breath

In reply to the direct question from visiting Defence Secretary Ainsworth "What is your top desire from right here at the chalkface (sic) - what would you have more of today?", Staff Sergeant Kim Hughes of 11 Regiment EOD replied: "more troops on the ground".

The apparently surprised Defence Secretary asked: "People?". Staff Sgt Hughes replied: "Absolutely, more troops." He went on: "If you give us more troops, we can form a counter-IED taskforce to train ground troops better." And consequently reduce injuries and save lives.

That British forces in Afghanistan are stretched and that ISAF numbers need to be increased has been shouted by frontline soldiers into the ears of politicians for months. But little has so far been forthcoming. Ainsworth is flogging a dead horse when he says that we've got to get our European allies to do their share; they clearly have no intention of honouring their NATO commitments.

Today former CGS General Sir Richard Dannatt has accused Gordon Brown of refusing the military's requests for major troop reinforcement. The General says that sInce the beginning of the year the Army has been advising that 2,000 extra troops need to be sent out to Afghanistan but this advice has been repeatedly ignored. Gordon Brown, however, has denied the General's claims - now, whose word would you believe?

Newly-appointed CGS General Sir David Richards has also backed calls for significant reinforcements in Afghanistan to allow hard-pressed coalition forces to dominate the ground more and reverse the spread of Taliban influence. He told the Sunday Telegraph more troops would allow the coalition to 'start winning the psychological battle' for the support of ordinary Afghans.

Let's hope that Ainsworth and Brown will heed the advice of Kim Hughes and David Richards and actually do something about it.

AOL: Hero soldier asks for more troops
BBC: PM 'refused extra Afghan troops'