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Inquiry called on low force in Helmand
Thu, 10 Jun 2010 05:17:45 GMT
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Reuters: Ahmad Masood
British politicians call for an inquiry into troop deployment to Afghanistan's Helmand province following growing concerns about inadequate troop levels there.

The Times recently disclosed that senior members of the Bush administration warned Britain's Ministry of Defence in early 2006 that British troop numbers were too low when planning military action in Helmand province.

“I remember going to London and saying it would be good to have more troops, but I was told that Britain couldn't add more until they were out of Iraq,” stated former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Eric Edelman.

Additionally, he said that British officials told him UK troop numbers would not be increased until France and other European countries were further committed to Afghanistan.

Britain sent 3,300 soldiers to Helmand, which has become one of Afghanistan's most dangerous provinces. It is alleged that the British forces in Helmand spread themselves too thin, making themselves vulnerable to defeat.

Patrick Mercer and James Arbuthnot, both Conservative MPs contending for the chairmanship of Parliament's Defence Select Committee, are pushing for an investigation into why the mission went ahead as planned despite the warnings.

“I think there should be a very clear inquiry into why senior officers allowed this to happen,” stated Mercer, a former army officer.

Arbuthnot, the previous chairman of the Defence Select Committee, has proposed an investigation as part of a Strategic Defence Review.

General David Petraeus, the senior US commander for Iraq and Afghanistan, met yesterday with Prime Minister Cameron in London, to gain support for the ongoing invasion of Afghanistan. He said, “The scale of the British contribution in Afghanistan is such that the coalition cannot succeed without you.”

LF/JG/ MB
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