Call for more Afghan troops

British commander says 4,000 more soldiers needed on Helmand front line

The commander of British troops in Afghanistan has said troop levels need to be raised by at least 50 per cent to fight a resurgent Taliban in Helmand and an international presence would be required in the country for up to 15 years. Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said the reinforcements – first disclosed in
The Independent a month ago – may arrive as Nato and the US plan tactics to counter the continuing violence.

The US is pushing for a thorough revamping of operations in Afghanistan as the American General David Petraeus, credited with reducing violence in Iraq, prepares to take over the running of the Afghan mission.

Brigadier Carleton-Smith's comments come a week after the US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, said that Britain was likely to increase its contribution in Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defence said several hundred extra troops are due to be added and levels on the ground are kept under continuous review. But senior officers say UK forces are facing serious overstretch and any large-scale deployment is unlikely in the near future with the continuing commitment in Iraq.

The US is sending up to 12,000 extra troops to Afghanistan as part of a "mini-surge" and the American administration has been pressing other Nato members, including the UK, to raise their contributions. At the same time, Pentagon officials are pushing for a more streamlined chain of command with much of the decision making moving from Nato to the US Central Command.

The UK force currently stands at just over 8,000. The brigadier, who leads the 16th Air Assault Brigade, said yesterday that he could use another 4,000 troops. "I think there is a recognition that more soldiers would stabilise areas here that remain dangerous more quickly," he said. "I think we could probably easily consume in Helmand another brigade.

"I could certainly find sufficient tasks in Helmand to use an additional brigade, but more widely any additional reinforcements in Afghanistan need to be balanced round the tactical requirements not just in Helmand but across the region in the south and indeed the American support in the east. There is work to be done across the region."

The commander also warned that Pakistan continues to be a problem, with fighters crossing the border to carry out attacks on British and allied forces. "They won't be strong enough to change the regime, but they are strong enough to be dangerous, deadly and keep this insurgency going," he said.

"This is a generational problem and that will take 10 to 15 years to change, and we will need to be here."

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
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
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: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable