More troops ‘are needed in Afghanistan’

Author: By Joe Churcher, Press Association

Anders Fogh Rasmussen met the Prime Minister in Downing Street as it emerged
the US envoy in Kabul had advised President Barack Obama against a military
surge.

Karl Eikenberry, who previously commanded troops in Afghanistan, urged caution
until more evidence is seen that the new Afghan government has tackled
widespread corruption.

Mr Obama is still grappling with his response to a plan drawn up by General
Stanley McChrystal – commander of international forces in Afghanistan – for
tens of thousands more troops.

The UK has already pledged a 500-strong reinforcement but it is dependent on
allies putting in more resources and on President Hamid Karzai showing he
has cleaned up the Afghan government.

Mr Brown said yesterday that he expected a decision by America within days but
that was played down by the White House, which insisted it was “weeks and
not days” away.

Asked what he would advise Mr Obama to do, Mr Rasmussen said: “We are right
now in an intense phase of consultation among allies and I expect a decision
on troop numbers to be taken within a very few weeks so I think it is a bit
premature to make any final judgment on troop numbers.

“Basically I share Gen McChrystal’s view, his assessment, his recommendation
of a broad counter-insurgency strategy. But I have not made a final decision
on the exact troop numbers.

“But for sure we need to strengthen training and education of Afghan soldiers
and Afghan police so we will definitely need more trainers, more education
facilities, equipment and money to sustain an increased number of Afghan
security forces.”

Speaking after the talks, he welcomed the British troop promise and said he
“encouraged all allies to step up to the plate and provide more resources”.

There have been criticisms that other Nato countries have failed to pull their
weight in the multi-nation campaign.

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