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Afghan surge advocate to head British Army

Oct. 18, 2008 at 3:45 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A general who favors increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan has been named head of the British army.

Gen. David Richards is to become chief of the General Staff next summer, The Times of London reported. He will succeed Gen. Richard Dannatt, who is retiring.

Richards recently recommended adding 30,000 soldiers to the forces fighting the Taliban, with 5,000 supplied by Britain. The others would come from the United States and the Afghan army.

There are now 8,000 British soldiers in Afghanistan.

"I think militarily there is a case for more troops," Richards told the BBC in a recent interview. "They don't all have to come by any means from the UK."

Richards, 56, joined the army in 1971 and has served in East Timor, Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland.

Dannatt has irritated the government by publicly criticizing the treatment of wounded soldiers and the military pay scale, saying that soldiers get less than traffic wardens. He has also charged that the British presence in Iraq was increasing unrest.

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