Nato's commander in Afghanistan has warned that the West's military strategy is failing, saying a new approach is necessary. In his review, General Stanley McChrystal is believed to say that the initiative may have been handed to the Taliban with Nato forces charging like bulls at "matador" insurgents and haemorrhaging with each thrust of the sword.
General McChrystal, who was sent to turn the tide of war in Afghanistan, stressed that protecting the population must be the top priority and this would mean Western forces staying in areas captured from the Taliban rather than withdrawing as has happened in the past due to lack of numbers.
The commander says the aim should be for Afghan forces to take the lead – but they will not be ready to do that for three years and it will take much longer for the police. Last week he told Afghan officials that he will be asking for around 20,000 more Nato troops.
Reports of his review came as two British soldiers died in an explosion while on foot patrol in Helmand, north of Lashkar Gah. They were from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland. Their deaths take the total number of deaths of UK service personnel since operations began in 2001 to 210.