UK & World News

  • 14 February 2013, 1:19

UK Troops Prepare For Afghan Deployment

The next deployment of British forces to Afghanistan is undergoing final preparations before heading out in April.

Troops have been taking part in exercises on Salisbury Plain, with actors playing the role of Afghan Forces to add realism to the training.

This tour will be different to previous deployments, with the emphasis very much on Afghan security forces.

British troops will play a back seat role, advising, training and supporting when necessary.

Not being in control will be uncomfortable for the British but it is the evolution of the conflict.

By the end of the year the British presence in the country will reduce by 3,800 and the mission will be over by the end of 2014.

Indeed this deployment, Herrick 18, will number 8,000 personnel, more than 1,000 fewer than recent predecessors.

More than 80% of operations are now Afghan-led and training at a lower level is almost completely carried out by local forces.

The challenge facing both Afghan and coalition forces will be the summer fighting season.

If the Taliban is contained then there is a possibility some soldiers might return early from this deployment.

Insider attacks probably pose the greatest threat to coalition forces. They are mindful, too, that the Taliban might want to see them off with a bloody nose.

Although 2014 will see then end of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) mission, some troops are expected to remain in the country for training and diplomatic duties.

Washington is yet to agree final figures but it will be crucial to Afghanistan's future security and prosperity.

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