Britain says Afghan troop commitments hold

July 10, 2013 at 9:17 AM
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LONDON, July 10 (UPI) -- The British government said it is committed to a phased reduction in forces deployed to Afghanistan, though fluctuations may occur through the year.

The British Ministry of Defense said Wednesday it would deploy an armored brigade to Afghanistan in October. Most of those deployed will serve in Helmand province.

The government said there would be around 6,000 British military personnel stationed in Afghanistan during the summer. Prime Minister David Cameron said in December conventional force levels would drop to around 5,200 by the end of the year. The ministry said troop deployments would fluctuate, however, because some units may be in the country while others are preparing to leave.

International forces serving in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan committed to transitioning to an advisory role as their combat obligations draw down next year. NATO said in June the Afghan military was in the lead in securing the country.

U.S. media reports Tuesday said President Obama is mulling a so-called zero option for the military commitment to Afghanistan. Under a plan reported by CBS News and The New York Times, there would be no U.S. forces in the country at the end of 2014.

The White House had considered keeping some troops in Afghanistan.

Bilateral tensions between the Afghan and U.S. governments intensified after Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed frustration over a diplomatic outreach effort with the Taliban.

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