The Prime Minister has outlined the Government’s long term strategy in Afghanistan, promising more support for troops and a stronger focus on increasing the presence of the Afghan army.
During a speech at the Institute of International Strategic Studies, Gordon Brown said the more Afghans can take responsibility for security in the short term, the less coalition forces will be needed in the long term.
Mr Brown said British troops would speed up their training of Afghan forces and move to a partnership role, “living, training and fighting alongside them”.
But he said in the short term UK forces would also have to address the changing tactics of the Taliban, in particular the increased use of mines and roadside bombs.
The PM said the Government was committed to ensuring that British forces have the resources necessary to do their job and promised ongoing investment in helicopters and vehicles.
“We have since 2006 spent over £1 billion from the reserve on new vehicles for Afghanistan, including 280 mastiffs which offer world-leading protection against IEDs. Between November 2006 and April this year we increased the number of helicopter hours by 84 per cent - and on top of that, as well sharing coalition helicopters, we lease hundreds of hours each month from commercial operators for routine supplies.”
The Prime Minister said the Government would continue to work on shifting the focus of the Helmand economy from heroin to wheat production and that the UK would continue to invest in education for Afghan children.
The UK will provide an extra £20 million to help stabilisation and security in Helmand, including police training and basic justice, he said.
“In Afghanistan last week I was further convinced that despite the challenges we face a nation emerging from three decades of violence can be healed and strengthened; and that our country and the whole world can be safer; because together we have the values, the strategy and the resolve to complete our vital task.”