Friday, February 23, 2007

Britain will increase the number of troops in Afghanistan

Britain intends to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, even as it pulls out troops from Iraq. Dick Cheney praised the pullout, suggesting it affirmed progress in the country. He then denounced the Democrat's plan to do the same thing, claiming that would "validate al Qaeda".

Iraq leader welcomes troops' exit

Tony Blair's plan to recall 1,600 British troops from Iraq within the next few months has been welcomed by the country's president.

Jalal Talabani's spokesman said it was a "welcome catalyst" that would force Iraqi forces to take responsibility for the country's security.

"But Basra is still, in Tony Blair's words, a difficult and dangerous place, which means that this is far short of the victory they wanted in 2003 but something, they hope, short of a total defeat."
The BBC report has an interesting chart of the number of British forces in Iraq over the last few years, with a high of more than 40,000 in early 2003, dropping to less than 20,000 that May and less than 10,000 in May 2004.

EXCLUSIVE: Cheney Says British Troop Withdrawal Is Positive Sign

"Well, I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well," Cheney told ABC News' Jonathan Karl.

"In fact, I talked to a friend just the other day who had driven to Baghdad down to Basra, seven hours, found the situation dramatically improved from a year or so ago, sort of validated the British view they had made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore reduce their force levels," Cheney said.

Cheney also had harsh words for Democratic leaders, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., who says he wants to stop the surge of more U.S. troops into Iraq.

"I want you to know that the American people will not support a policy of retreat," Cheney told the soldiers.

Increase in troops to Afghanistan

The number of British troops in Afghanistan is set to rise Britain is to increase its military presence in southern Afghanistan by about 800 troops to 5,800.

But the UK's overall deployment in Afghanistan will only increase by 300 because the military is also reducing its presence in Kabul by 500 personnel.

The British troops are part of a 32,000-strong Nato force which is currently based in Afghanistan.

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