A growing majority of Britons want British troops to pull out of Afghanistan within 12 months, a poll released Saturday shows, as a NATO commander spoke out to say troops should get working with local communities.
AFP - A growing majority of Britons want British troops out of Afghanistan within 12 months, a poll released Saturday showed, as a NATO commander spoke of his son's horrific injuries in the war.
Some 71 percent of those questioned for the Independent on Sunday newspaper said they would back a phased withdrawal of British forces leading to an end of combat operations within 12 months.
And 47 percent said the continued deployment of the 9,000-strong British contingent in Afghanistan made terror attacks at home more likely.
Opposition to the conflict is increasing in Britain after the bodies of six soldiers killed in Afghanistan were repatriated this week, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown was criticised by a dead soldier's mother for an error-strewn condolence letter.
Around 1,000 people demonstrated against the war Saturday as NATO's parliamentary assembly met in Edinburgh.
The British government has faced repeated accusations that troops are being put at increased risk because of insufficient equipment and helicopters.
But Lieutenant General Nick Parker, the British deputy commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan insisted shortages of kit were not to blame for his 26-year-old son Harry losing both legs in a booby-trap bomb in July.
Parker told the News of the World that the equipment supplied to British troops was right for the job they are doing.
He suggested that the key to stemming casualties and achieving military success in the country was not more helicopters but a strategy to win the hearts and minds of local people by getting out into their communities.
"Rather than asking for more helicopters -- which may be a requirement -- what we've got to do is develop tactics that get you out and amongst the people and re-establish ourselves as a force for good in the community," he told the newspaper.
"I know my view, as a fat general sitting behind a desk, will be treated with derision... (but) I genuinely believe there is no need to buy extra kit.
"I'm absolutely convinced that what Harry was given was right for what he was doing. However, nothing was ever going to stop his leg getting blown off."
A total of 232 British personnel have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001.
Brown said Friday he was confident of persuading other countries to contribute to an extra 5,000 troops on top of a likely US surge. Britain has promised an additional 500.
The ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday questioned 1,007 adults by phone on November 11-12.
Date created : 2009-11-15