The UK is mourning its 100th military death in Afghanistan this year, after a soldier was killed in Helmand province.
The growing number of casualties has undermined support for the mission among the British public. But Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to stay the course – a view echoed by a commanding officer whose regiment has just finished a tour of duty. Lt. Col. Charlie Calder of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers said: “We have got to make sure that we are not totally focussed on the casualties that we are taking because whilst each and every death is, in itself, a tragedy for the families, what we have got to be focussed on is the mission and making sure that we have put in place the resources and we have the strategy to bring us to a successful conclusion.” Major Sean Birchall, 33, was blown up on a routine patrol in Helmand province six months ago. Each new British military death hits his grieving mother Maureen hard. “I still find it sort of unbelievable even though I know it absolutely has happened,” she said. “And I do feel for them all because I know what stages you go through.” “Sean had a wonderful funeral and I think other one’s that I have been to… everybody has done their best but it is after then that it is sort of painful.” And the pain for military personnel and their families is unlikely to be over anytime soon. Britain is sending another 500 troops to Afghanistan, to try to turn the tide against the Taliban.