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Afghanistan: British commander in Helmand believes troops need to stay 10 years

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Thomas Harding and Nick Meo
London Telegraph
July 4, 2010

The British officer commanding operations in the most dangerous part of Helmand has warned that Nato may need to stay militarily engaged in Afghanistan for a full 10 years.

Lt Col Paul James, commanding officer of 40 Commando who are currently fighting in Sangin district, told The Sunday Telegraph there were not enough Nato forces or Afghan police to keep the area safe from a Taliban resurgence.

David Cameron last week signalled that he wants British soldiers home by 2015, although Dr Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, has stressed that they will be among the last Nato soldiers to leave Afghanistan.

The British Army’s view since the start of their deployment in Helmand has been that defeating the Taliban, and building up Afghan forces, will be a long-term undertaking, perhaps lasting many years.

“We are here to create time and space for governance to take hold,” said Lt Col James. “That’s much more decisive than fighting Taliban. It just takes hellishly long unless you have the right force density – that’s my concern, that we might be here 10 years rather than five years. But we need to see this through.”

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This article was posted: Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 4:06 am

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