Britain to withdraw 4000 from Afghanistan in 2013
By Meena Haseeb - Wed Dec 19 2012, 8:52 am
Britain will withdraw at least 4,000 troops from Afghanistan next year as NATO begins a sharp pull-out from the country before its 2014 withdrawal deadline, David Cameron is expected to announce on Wednesday, The Guardian reported.
As the Afghan National Army and police take on responsibility for security in their country, the prime minister is expected to announce plans for the larger than expected withdrawal in the Commons.
A blueprint for the withdrawal was approved by senior ministers at a meeting of the National Security Council yesterday.
Mr Cameron has previously announced that the 9,500 British troops fighting the Taliban this year will be cut to 9,000 by the end of this month.
The scale of the withdrawal is understood to be in step with the advice of commanders in Helmand province, where British troops have been based since 2006, and has been endorsed by Barack Obama.
After Mr Cameron’s announcement, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond will give MPs the Ministry of Defense’s regular quarterly update on the conflict.
Senior government sources told the Daily Mail that Mr Cameron has resisted calls from the Treasury for a quicker draw down to save money. The conflict has already cost in excess of £17 billion.
But the Prime Minister has approved a steady withdrawal in order to avoid a ‘cliff edge’ pullout that would strain Army logistics.
Exact details of which troops will leave and when will be thrashed out in talks with Britain’s ISAF rivals.
UK forces will continue to mentor and advise the Afghans, rather than offering front line combat support, but by the end of next year no British troops are likely to be leading combat operations. However, special forces units will continue to work with their Afghan counterparts.