Great Britain's military furious with Gordon Brown

Prime Minister Brown's paltry response to President Obama's call for NATO countries to increase troop strength in Afghanistan has drawn the ire of high level British Commanders who fear their tepid contribution of a mere 700 "temporary" troops will strain the strategic relationship they have with the US.

Brown originally promised 2,500 troops - far below what the British chiefs were recommending. And now he has reduced even that niggardly increase.

The Independent's Kim Sengupta has the story:

Senior generals are bemused that the Prime Minister has turned down the advice of his own Defence Secretary, John Hutton, that a larger force should be sent to Afghanistan following the withdrawal from Iraq. Now they have warned Number 10 that the reputation of the armed forces will suffer in the eyes of senior American commanders unless Mr Brown authorises an autumn surge in troop numbers. Such a surge, they say, would signal Britain's intent to "pull its weight" in the Afghan conflict by plugging the shortfall in the multinational force.

On Saturday, two more British troops died in Helmand, bringing to 165 the total number killed in the conflict so far - just 14 fewer than the total number of British soldiers who died in Iraq.

Mr Brown has until now turned down, on cost grounds, the generals' proposal to send 2,500 extra troops in support of the projected US-led "surge" against the Taliban. Instead, he has authorised a deployment of 700 temporary troops to cover the period of the forthcoming elections in that country. But The Independent has learnt that defence chiefs have persuaded the Government to review the situation in the autumn. Even then, any increase is likely to be in the hundreds rather than in the numbers that the Army believes are needed.

America is not exactly alone. The Canadians have a sizable contingent doing some heaving lifting in the south (along with a small but effective battalion from the Netherlands) and several hundred French Special Forces are operating in the north. And the Afghan army - while still inconsistent - nevertheless is showing signs of progress.

But the job of actually going after the Taliban falls mainly on US forces. An additional 5-6000 Brits - the number British commanders thought they could send - would have been welcome. But apparently, Brown's temporary increase is the best we're going to get.




Prime Minister Brown's paltry response to President Obama's call for NATO countries to increase troop strength in Afghanistan has drawn the ire of high level British Commanders who fear their tepid contribution of a mere 700 "temporary" troops will strain the strategic relationship they have with the US.

Brown originally promised 2,500 troops - far below what the British chiefs were recommending. And now he has reduced even that niggardly increase.

The Independent's Kim Sengupta has the story:

Senior generals are bemused that the Prime Minister has turned down the advice of his own Defence Secretary, John Hutton, that a larger force should be sent to Afghanistan following the withdrawal from Iraq. Now they have warned Number 10 that the reputation of the armed forces will suffer in the eyes of senior American commanders unless Mr Brown authorises an autumn surge in troop numbers. Such a surge, they say, would signal Britain's intent to "pull its weight" in the Afghan conflict by plugging the shortfall in the multinational force.

On Saturday, two more British troops died in Helmand, bringing to 165 the total number killed in the conflict so far - just 14 fewer than the total number of British soldiers who died in Iraq.

Mr Brown has until now turned down, on cost grounds, the generals' proposal to send 2,500 extra troops in support of the projected US-led "surge" against the Taliban. Instead, he has authorised a deployment of 700 temporary troops to cover the period of the forthcoming elections in that country. But The Independent has learnt that defence chiefs have persuaded the Government to review the situation in the autumn. Even then, any increase is likely to be in the hundreds rather than in the numbers that the Army believes are needed.

America is not exactly alone. The Canadians have a sizable contingent doing some heaving lifting in the south (along with a small but effective battalion from the Netherlands) and several hundred French Special Forces are operating in the north. And the Afghan army - while still inconsistent - nevertheless is showing signs of progress.

But the job of actually going after the Taliban falls mainly on US forces. An additional 5-6000 Brits - the number British commanders thought they could send - would have been welcome. But apparently, Brown's temporary increase is the best we're going to get.