Britain to Send 500 More Troops to Afghanistan

Expects other NATO countries to follow suit
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2009 7:11 AM CDT
This British Ministry of Defense photograph made available Sunday Aug. 16, 2009 shows British troops in Sangin, Helmand Province in Afghanistan.    (AP Photo/MOD HANDOUT/SGT Dan Harmer RLC.)
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(Newser) – Britain will send 500 more troops to Afghanistan, Gordon Brown is expected to announce today, defying calls to reduce Britain’s presence there. The men will come with strings attached, however: “The prime minister will want assurances from military chiefs that the extra troops will be properly equipped,” a BBC correspondent said. “He’ll also expect Britain’s NATO partners to follow suit.”

The move is “quite a bold decision,” says one former commander in Afghanistan, where Britain already has 9,000 troops, mostly in the southern province of Helmand, a Taliban stronghold. But he added that “We probably do need more than that.” Conservative leader David Cameron also backs sending more troops, while Liberal Democrats are calling for a “political surge” instead.