British troops mobilised to help retake Sangin from Taliban
KABUL (Pajhwok): British troops have reportedly been deployed to southern Helmand province to help Afghan forces retake control of the Sangin from Taliban, but the UK Defence Ministry said the soldiers would not take any combat role and would only provide advisory support.
Police sources and a public representative in Helmand had told Pajhwok Afghan News that the town of Sangin had fallen back to the Taliban, but the provincial governor and the Afghan ministries of defence and interior on Monday rejected the district had fallen.
The Helmand governor on Monday told Pajhwok Afghan News clashes between security forces and Taliban militants were underway for control of the district administration and police headquarters.
More than 100 British troops have died in and around Sangin. From the start of operations in October 2001, 456 British forces personnel or MoD civilians were killed while serving in Afghanistan.
Lord Dannatt, former chief of the general staff, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the British government will have to think "long and hard" about any expansion of the UK’s role.
The former head of the British Army said: "I think the Government has a strategic choice that it is going to have to think long and hard about. "We have limited resources, particularly after the army was cut by 20%.”
He asked: "Are we going to make a bigger effort into Afghanistan again? Are we going to hold ourselves in reserve to go in to Syria, if that totally implodes? "Or, if there is some form of government in Libya that we can support, are we going to make a deployment into Libya?"
Lord Dannatt said all these things relate to the same problem of the "growth of the so-called Islamic State-type jihadi influence".
"We can't do all of those things - the Government has got to decide what its priority is. Something, however, must be done." But Lord Dannatt said Afghanistan is currently a "lower priority" than Libya and Syria.
A spokeswoman said: "As part of the UK's ongoing contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, a small number of UK personnel have deployed to Camp Shorabak in Helmand province in an advisory role.”
"These personnel are part of a larger NATO team which is providing advice to the Afghan National Army. They are not deployed in a combat role and will not deploy outside the camp.
"In total the UK has around 450 troops in Afghanistan mentoring and supporting the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces and the Afghan Security Ministries."
US Army Col. Michael T. Lawhorn, NATO Resolute Support spokesman in Kabul, told Pajhwok Afghan News NATO troops were involved in helping the Afghan forces exactly the same way they had been -- training, advising and assisting Afghan forces.
“We've known that Helmand province remains a contested area. It's the ANDSF's main effort and the Afghan National Security Forces have conducted no fewer than five major operations there recently to disrupt insurgent and Taliban activities.”
however, he said progress during this last year had been uneven, but the Afghan forces were resilient and had become much more adept at conducting planned operations, which was s important because their operational rate had increased almost 400 percent since they took the lead for operations.
“Our focus during these next few months will be to assist the Afghan's effort to improve the manning, training, and equipping the 215th Corps.”
“So the strategy remains the same, build Afghan capacity and continue to help the Afghans integrate the lessons they've learned this year into their operations."
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