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Britain Plans To Double Afghan Forces After NATO Request

11 Jul 2018 Gandhara - RFE/RL

Britain is planning to almost double its number of troops in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced.

May on July 10 said the British military will deploy an extra 440 troops, bringing the country's total to about 1,100, as it looks to assist Afghan forces in their battle against Taliban and Islamic State (IS) insurgents.

The move comes a day before the start a potentially contentious NATO summit in Brussels on July 11, with U.S. President Donald Trump demanding that members contribute more to the alliance's efforts and their own national defense.

Trump has called on allies to send reinforcements to Afghanistan to help deal with the security situation the country, where a NATO-led mission is assisting the Western-backed government in Kabul.

"In committing additional troops to the Train Advise Assist operation in Afghanistan, we have underlined once again that when NATO calls, the U.K. is among the first to answer," May said.

The additional troops will not be in a combat role and will instead take part in NATO's Resolute Support mission to train and assist Afghan forces.

British troops, like the bulk of Western forces, ended combat operations in 2014, handing battlefield duties mainly over to Afghan forces.

About half of the British troops will arrive in August, with the rest coming in February 2019. They will be based in Kabul.

Trump last year announced that the United States would send thousands more troops to Afghanistan and has asked other NATO countries to send reinforcements as well.

Citing U.S. officials, Reuters reported on July 10 that the U.S. administration is planning another major review of its strategy in Afghanistan "in the next few months."

The Kabul government has struggled in the past year against resurgent Taliban fighters, along with IS, Al-Qaeda, and other militants, some 17 years after a U.S.-led coalition drove the Taliban from rule in Afghanistan.

With reporting by Reuters and The Guardian

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