Theresa May made the announcement on the eve of NATO’s heads of state summit in Brussels, where a meeting on Afghanistan will be held.
Britain To Almost Double Troops In Afghanistan
The British government is planning to almost double the number of its troops in Afghanistan after a request from US President Donald Trump for reinforcements to help tackle the fragile security situation.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced her government will send an extra 440 troops, which would bring Britain’s total to about 1,100, to help Afghan troops fighting Taliban and Daesh insurgents.
The extra troops will be taking part in NATO-led Resolute Support, to train, advise and assist Afghan forces. They will be based in Kabul.
The announcement comes the day before a NATO summit in Belgium that could turn contentious over US President Donald Trump’s insistence that allies pay more for their defense.
Trump, who announced the United States would send thousands more troops to Afghanistan last year, has asked Britain and other NATO countries to send more reinforcements to the country.
“In committing additional troops to the Train Advise Assist operation in Afghanistan we have underlined once again that when NATO calls the UK is among the first to answer,” May said.
“NATO is as vital today as it ever has been and our commitment to it remains steadfast. The Alliance can rely on the UK to lead by example.”
The increase in British troops comes ahead of parliamentary elections in Afghanistan in October.
The extra British troops will initially come from the Welsh Guards, with around half arriving in August and the rest in February next year.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed and wounded in attacks in Kabul this year. At least 57 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a voter registration booth in April and about 100 people were killed in January by a bomb in an ambulance.
Thousands more US troops have been sent to Afghanistan to help train the army, and commanders have been given greater authority to carry out air strikes against the militants in a major reversal of the previous policy of phased withdrawal of American forces.
May’s announcement came on the eve of NATO’s two-day heads of state summit in Brussels.
Speaking ahead of the start of the summit on Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference that NATO would close the summit with a meeting on Afghanistan, joined by Resolute Support partners.
“We will continue our presence in Afghanistan to put pressure on Taliban so they join the peace process.”
“Our presence in Afghanistan is vital to ensuring the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorism.
“And Allies are increasing their commitment, both in forces and funding. We have added around 3,000 more trainers to our mission,” he said.
Stoltenberg also said: “I expect we will also agree to extend funding for the Afghan forces beyond 2020. And we’ll express our full support for President Ghani’s bold peace initiative. And his government’s reforms.”