Under pressure amid mounting military losses in Afghanistan, Britain’s government says troops will get whatever equipment they need. Fifteen British soldiers have been killed in 10 days, prompting questions over the UK’s commitment to supporting its armed forces. Some believe that whatever London does, British troops will always be an easier target for the Taliban than their US counterparts.
“The American presence in that country is ten times our size,” said Afghanistan expert Rory Stewart. “They are going to be spending 20 times as much money. They have got huge technological capacity. They have got planes and helicopters we could not even dream of having. They have just launched 4,000 people in an airborne assault in a way that the British military can’t imagine doing – anything of that sort – since the Second World War.”
It may be smaller but Britain’s effort in Afghanistan has been singled out for praise by the US Commander in Chief. “The contribution of the British is critical,” said US President Barack Obama in an interview with British television station Sky News. “This is not an American mission. The mission in Afghanistan is one that the Europeans have as much if not more of a stake in than we do.”
But the presidential tribute is unlikely to ease the pain for those mourning loved ones. Britain has now lost more soldiers in Afghanistan – 184 – than in the Iraq campaign.