More British Troops for Afghanistan?
What Does Trump’s New Afghanistan Strategy Mean for the British Army?
Following US President Donal Trump’s announcement of a continued commitment to operations in Afghanistan, the UK’s Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon made his own statement welcoming Trump’s decision.
Trump’s announcement also included the news that he will authorize an increased US troop presence there, leading to speculation that the UK would follow suit.
British Army Will “Stay the Course” in Afghanistan
Trump also said that he was “confident” that NATO allies, including Britain, would also increase their number of troops in Afghanistan.
The Defence Secretary agreed with Trump that the allies must “stay the course” in Afghanistan, but gave no indication whether that would mean sending more British troops.
Britain Increased Deployed Soldiers in June
Sir Michael was briefed by his US counterpart, Jim Mattis, ahead of Trump’s announcement, in the first of a series of phone calls to NATO allies. Sir Michael afterwards said:
The US commitment is very welcome. In my call with Secretary Mattis yesterday we agreed that, despite the challenges, we have to stay the course in Afghanistan to help build up its fragile democracy and reduce the terrorist threat to the West. It’s in all our interests that Afghanistan becomes more prosperous and safer: that’s why we announced our own troop increase back in June.
British combat operations in Afghanistan (Operation HERRICK) ended in 2014. Today, only a small force of 500 is currently deployed to train Afghan Government military forces, codenamed Operation TORAL.
The US currently has around 8,400 soldiers in Afghanistan, with a further 4,000 proposed. Their role is also to primarily train Afghan forces, codenamed Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
The armed services media outlet, Forces.net, stated that Britain was unlikely to further increase its deployment of troops in Afghanistan. As yet, the UK has not received a formal request for increased military support, however, the US will expect its allies to contribute to any increase in oeprational tempo, including more boots on the ground.