Britain reaffirms Afghan commitment
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 20, 2009
The war in Afghanistan is at a "stalemate," but Britain is in it "for the long haul," British Defense Secretary John Hutton said Wednesday.
Britain, the second-highest troop-contributing NATO member after the United States, has about 8,300 troops in southern Afghanistan. A total of 152 British casualties have been reported since 2001.
Hutton, speaking to reporters at the British Embassy in Washington, said his country is actively participating in the U.S. review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to media reports.
He said Pakistan’s military needs more help with developing its intelligence-gathering, ability to counter roadside bombs and counterinsurgency efforts.
"The Taliban and al-Qaida have got to know there is no safe haven," Hutton said, according to The Washington Post.
He said militants based in the regions by the Afghanistan-Pakistan border pose a "very, very serious counterinsurgency threat" to the Pakistani government.
Although President Barack Obama said he would send an additional 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan this year — there are now about 30,000 — his administration also is reportedly contemplating a broader effort involving sending more civilians.
Hutton said there is "no silver bullet" to address the challenges in Afghanistan.
"The situation is not what I’d like it to be," Hutton was quoted as saying in The Washington Times. "The best way to describe it is stalemate. Stalemate is not good enough."