Britain loses 100th soldier

Dec. 9, 2009 at 1:53 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Britain has lost its 100th soldier in the Afghan war this year, but its army chief, Gen. David Richards, urged against judging the campaign by casualties alone.

The soldier from the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment was killed by small arms fire in central Helmand province Tuesday, and his death made it the deadliest year for British troops in Afghanistan. A total of 237 British military personnel have died in Afghanistan since the war started in 2001, The Guardian reported.

His death was expected to further raise doubts among the British public about their role in the war, The Times of London reported.

"For those of us in the army, whilst we grieve for a fallen comrade, his loss hardens our determination to succeed," the army chief said. "The temptation to judge this essential campaign by casualties alone undervalues the tremendous efforts of our forces and our allies, and the progress they are making."

However, The Times reported politicians like Kim Howells, a former Foreign Office minister, have already voiced their doubts about the war.

It said even U.S. President Barack Obama, while announcing his decision to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, mentioned a likely troop exit plan beginning July 2011.

The newspaper said most of those who have died in Afghanistan were killed by the Taliban's improvised explosive devices and that despite more coalition forces being sent to Helmand, the insurgents seem to have an inexhaustible supply of bomb-making equipment.

The newspaper said British troops, with the exception of U.S. troops, have suffered more than other NATO troops because the majority of them are in Helmand, where the Taliban has its greatest influence and is most focused.

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