MoD confirms longer tours as troops move towards Afghanistan exit

 

British troops are going to have their tours in Afghanistan lengthened by half while the exit strategy from the 12-year-old war is underway, the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced today.

The Independent revealed three months ago that the plan to extend deployment time was under active consideration after senior officers stressed that the extension was imperative to ensure that Afghan army and police are in a position to take over security duties as Western forces withdraw.

The Government has also desisted from carrying out any major cuts in numbers of British troops during the summer ‘fighting season’. The most senior UK commander in Afghanistan, Lieutenant

General Nick Carter, told The Independent that a drawdown during that period would seriously undermine the gains which have been made. Senior officers were worried that headlines back in Britain claiming the war was over because UK troops had drastically cut down on combat missions woul,  encourage demands for a faster timetable of withdrawl.

However, the decision to extend the tour length is likely to prove controversial in some quarters with critics arguing that this will put troops in additional danger at a time when the Taliban are expected to step up their attacks. The military commanders insist that no one will be exposed to higher risk by the new policy; they hold that the additional time is particularly important for those engaged in partnering local forces, a job where establishing trust and continuity is seen as essential.

It was also felt that there should not be a brigade rotation during the Afghan presidential elections next April with Hamid Karzai due to step down under the constitution after serving two terms.

There is uncertainty over the elections with insurgents threatening to disrupt the voting with attacks  and fear of civic disorder if there are signs of widespread corruption which marred the polling process when President Karzai returned to power four years ago.

The changes will also mean that the cost of training an extra brigade can be saved as the size of the British forces in Afghanistan is drastically reduced from the end of this year. It will also mean that the numbers of final tranche to be withdrawn, will be fewer than projected.

UK forces currently serve six month tours. The next brigade to deploy, in the autumn, will do an eight-month tour although some will serve an added month. The majority of the next brigade, with British numbers by then drastically reduced, will serve six months, but some will be in post for nine..

An MoD source said: “This decision is based on clear military advice to provide continuity in key posts as we transition to Afghan control and manage troop deployments during key events such as the Afghan Presidential Elections in the Spring. It’s the most effective way of meeting our commitment to the Afghans and the NATO ISAF mission until the end of 2014, at the same time as minimising the number of Service personnel who deploy on operations. During this time troops will predominantly be based behind the wire in Camp Bastion carrying out redeployment tasks and training work.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Operations Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently recruiting for an Operati...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, Security Cleared

£100 - £110 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Ham...

Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Junior Developer- CSS, HMTL, Bootstrap

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading company within the healthcare ...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz