The size and mission of the British military force due to be sent to southern Afghanistan next year as part of Nato plans to expand its peacekeeping operations are being scaled back, the BBC has learned.This is war. People die. This isn't feelgoodism. Welcome to varsity football. The time of sun and roses up north is coming to a close. The U.S., British and Canadians cannot do all the dying.
The move comes amid continuing uncertainty over the commitment of other European alliance members to the plan for Nato to take over responsibility from the US for the more dangerous south and east, the heartland of the four-year-old Taleban-led insurgency.
Last week, the Dutch government again postponed a decision on sending 1,100 troops to the volatile southern province of Uruzgan, amid domestic concerns about casualties.
Sigh. My dear Dutch. What happened to the men who defeated the best German Paratoopers in The Battle for The Hague in 1940? Will it take more battles in The Hague - this time fighting your home grown Jihadi?
...the UK government is now considering sending only about 1,000 combat troops to the equally challenging province of Helmand, ... That is about half the number originally discussed.They are already running for the exits and the show hasn't started. The Dutch military is better than their politicians. They have done great work already in Afghanistan and are being smeared as cowards by their government.
The government may also shelve plans to deploy Apache attack helicopters to support them. ... On paper though, Nato nations remain committed to the expansion of the peacekeeping force.
Foreign ministers agreed to provide 6,000 troops for the move south at a meeting last week in Brussels, with most coming from Britain - which will lead the alliance's forces - and Canada. ... In Afghan government circles, there is some frustration at the confusion, directed especially at the Dutch.
British soldiers in Afghanistan
UK has still not resolved details of its commitment
"They agreed to go to Uruzgan a long time ago," said one official. "Didn't they realise it was dangerous?"
However, jocular remarks reportedly made by a senior Afghan official to a visiting Dutch delegation about the number of "body bags" they might need for the Uruzgan deployment didn't help, several western diplomats have told the BBC.
Politicians in The Hague have also been worried about the treatment of any detainees their troops capture and the possibility of the death penalty being used.
But the expansion south - due to be completed by June next year - is not the end of the story.The U.S. needs to check six as we walk out the door and hand the keys to our NATO "allies." We could loose AF again if this isn't done right. Good people are at work on this, so lets give it a month.
NATO is then supposed to take over responsibility for eastern Afghanistan, along the border with Pakistan, an area many regard as even more dangerous.