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Britain can`t afford to lose in Afghanistan: General

Last Updated: Friday, July 31, 2009 - 10:25

London: The head of Britain`s Army argued for more resources to fight the war in Afghanistan on Thursday, saying the country`s future and its place in the world order depended on it.

General Richard Dannatt, who steps down as Army chief next month after three years in the post, described Afghanistan as a complex and difficult war that the nation was only just beginning to acknowledge, and which it could not afford to lose.

"We must ensure that we succeed in the current campaign. Success in Afghanistan is not discretionary and will set the agenda for the future," he told defence experts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"We need to get onto a war-like footing -- it`s very much in our national interests to do this -- and if that means an uplift in Afghan-specific capabilities, then so be it."

Afghanistan has been at the forefront of Britain`s political agenda in recent weeks as the military has carried out an offensive against the Taliban, suffering its worst casualties -- 22 dead in July -- since the war began in late 2001.

Commanders on the ground and military analysts have said more troops are needed to reinforce the 9,000 already there, and more helicopters are needed to ferry them around the war zone.

Dannatt, who has differed with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the debate, letting it be known he did not think there were enough helicopters when the prime minister has said there are, put his comments in the context of an upcoming government review of defence which will examine spending priorities.

The Strategic Defence Review, the first in 11 years, is expected to take a sweeping look at defence costs -- from plans for aircraft carriers and submarines to fighter jets, armoured vehicles and radios -- and assess what is really needed for future conflicts and what can afford to be cut.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, July 31, 2009 - 10:25

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