Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Afghan War Strategy Turmoil as 140 Extra Soldiers Fly in; More Troops Sent from Cyprus as Ministers Are Accused by Tories of Depriving Force of Helicopters

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Afghan War Strategy Turmoil as 140 Extra Soldiers Fly in; More Troops Sent from Cyprus as Ministers Are Accused by Tories of Depriving Force of Helicopters

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy Political Editor

AN EXTRA 140 soldiers were flying to Afghanistan tonight to boost the fight against the Taliban.

The injection of troops comes after the deaths of eight servicemen in 24 hours. The extra men were training in Cyprus and will deploy temporarily to boost the number of soldiers on the ground, increasing the overall number to about 9,100.

An MoD official said: "The decision has been taken to maintain momentum and build on Operation Panther's Claw."

The announcement was made in the Commons by Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth as the Government's war strategy came under fierce scrutiny.

Conservative MPs accused ministers of depriving the Army of enough helicopters to transport troops safely -- a charge rejected by the Government and an Army spokesman.

Criticism of the way the war is being conducted at the highest level came from former foreign secretary Lord Owen who urged the Prime Minister to appoint a new minister to mastermind the war strategy and to replace the head of the armed forces.

Writing in tonight's Standard, he said: "It is becoming ever clearer that we need a fundamental re-think of our position in Afghanistan." Lord Owen said it was "unprecedented and deplorable" that Mr Ainsworth was only 21st in the Cabinet pecking order.

He said the Prime Minister should recall heavyweight Lord Robertson to oversee not only defence but foreign and aid policy to the region. "It would do a lot to restore confidence if he could persuade a greatly respected former defence secretary and Nato secretarygeneral, George Robertson, to come back into government with the authority to oversee government policy on foreign, defence and overseas aid in Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said.

He warned there was also "an urgent need to address the military leadership". Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, could be replaced immediately by General Sir David Richards, who has fought in Afghanistan. Sir Jock, whose career was spent in the RAF, is due to retire next year and Sir David is rumoured to be the favourite to succeed him. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.