UK to nearly double troops in Afghanistan after Trump request
By PHILLIP WALTER WELLMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 11, 2018
KABUL, Afghanistan — The United Kingdom will nearly double the number of troops it has in Afghanistan in response to a request by President Donald Trump for additional support in America’s longest war.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday that 440 more British servicemembers would deploy to the country, bringing the U.K.’s total contribution to about 1,100 troops.
Her announcement was made on the eve of a summit of NATO heads of state in Brussels, where Trump on Wednesday continued his calls for more defense spending contributions from allies.
The new British support will add to the roughly 16,000 coalition troops who make up NATO’s Resolute Support mission, which trains, advises and assists Afghan forces fighting Taliban and Islamic State militants. Americans comprise over half of the mission.
“NATO is as vital today as it ever has been and our commitment to it remains steadfast,” May said Tuesday, according to Reuters. “The alliance can rely on the U.K. to lead by example.”
NATO ended combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014 but a separate U.S. counterterrorism mission continues.
The announcement of more British troops came as Reuters reported that the U.S. is preparing to review its Afghanistan strategy after Trump expressed frustration over a lack of progress.
Additional U.S. troops were sent to Afghanistan and the U.S. has increased air support under Trump’s strategy. But nearly a year after it was announced, the war remains a stalemate. The Afghan government controls or influences just 56 percent of the country, according to U.S. military data.
U.S. and U.K. coalition partners with Kabul Security Forces train together using British helicopter assets with the Toral Aviation Detachment, British Royal Air Force, at Camp Qargha in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2018. The UK announced on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, that it would nearly double the number of troops it deploys to Afghanistan.
LEANNA LITSCH/U.S. ARMY NATIONAL GUARD