US troops to take over from British forces in Musa Qala
Afghan strategy changes in 'rebalancing' process as UK soldiers go to Helmand
Friday 12 March 2010
A town which played an iconic and controversial part in the British mission in Afghanistan is to be handed over to the Americans in a move signalling a major change in Western strategy.
Musa Qala, where 23 British soldiers died, will be the first of a number of areas which will be transferred from UK to US control, reflecting the new military balance in Helmand where American troops now outnumber the British force.
A number of other areas currently under UK command will also go to the Americans as part of a "rebalancing" process. Sangin is expected to stay in British hands, but with the addition of an US contingent.
The 500-strong British force in Musa Qala, along with the troops withdrawn from other places under the plan, will move to the population centres of central Helmand. In effect this will mean that they will be concentrating on providing security for reconstruction projects while the US forces take on more offensive operations against the Taliban.
What took place at Musa Qala had come under repeated scrutiny and led to bitter recriminations involving the British, the Americans and the Afghan government.
Under a deal in 2006, British forces withdrew in return for local elders pledging to keep out the Taliban. But the claims followed from the US and the Afghan president Hamid Karzai that the area had been handed over to the insurgents. The open Taliban control of the town saw the Islamists levying taxes and imposing a brutal version of Sharia law. Musa Qala became a centre for mass production of opium with much of the proceeds going towards funding the insurgency.
It was recaptured at the end of 2007 in an operation by British, US and Afghan forces. However, the UK commander in charge of the operation, Brigadier Andrew Mackay, later left the Army early after criticising British government policy in Afghanistan.
Sizeable investment in reconstruction has followed.
The replacement force of US Marines will be larger than the current British force in Musa Qala by around 200. They will be accompanied by up to 800 Afghan soldiers and police.
Major General Gordon Messenger, the Ministry of Defence spokesman on Afghanistan, insisted yesterday that is was a "success story" but acknowledged that "lessons had to be learned".
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
Bubonic plague-carrying fleas found on New York City rats
London property boom built on dirty money
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£30000 - £35379 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is based in Welwyn ...
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Resource and Recruitment Manage...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...