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 It will also mean that the numbers of final tranche to be withdrawn, will be fewer than projected.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.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
John Terry puts Chelsea ahead
football
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David performs in his play ‘Fish in the Dark'
theatreFish in the Dark has already generated a record $14.5m in advance ticket sales
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tvReview: Too often The Casual Vacancy resembled a jumble of deleted scenes from Hot Fuzz
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
news
Arts and Entertainment
Jemima West in Channel 4's Indian Summers (Joss Barratt/Channel 4)
tvReview: More questions and plot twists keep viewers guessing
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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003