More Brit troops sought for Afghanistan

LONDON, July 17 (UPI) -- The head of the British Army warned of strategic failure in Afghanistan Friday as he demanded more permanent troops for that country.

Gen. Richard Dannatt made his demand in a BBC interview as Britain announced the 16th death of a British soldier in Afghanistan this month and 185th overall.


The general, who retires Aug. 28, said it is vital to at least keep the number of British troops in Afghanistan at 9,000. Reduction to 8,300 troops, as planned after the Afghan elections, "would be quite wrong," he said. "I could not support that."

Accused of playing politics over the issue of equipment, Dannatt demanded more troops and greater investment as part of a shopping list he prepared after an inspection trip, The Daily Telegraph reported.

"We do need more troops, we need more boots on the ground," he said, admitting the number of British deaths this week could lead Britons to say: "Hold on. This is not a price worth paying."

But, the cost of failure in Afghanistan, he said, "is just unthinkable."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown earlier this year vetoed an Army request to send nearly 2,000 more troops to Afghanistan on cost grounds. He says further troops are "properly equipped" and promised: "We will do whatever is necessary and what is right to equip our Armed Forces."


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