Thursday, December 3, 2009

Armed forces chief Jock Stirrup believes Afghanistan aims can be achieved

The long-term goals of the war in Afghanistan can be achieved with the extra troops now being put in place, head of the armed forces Sir Jock Stirrup said yesterday.

He was among more than 500 serving personnel, guests and bereaved relatives who gathered for a memorial and thanksgiving service at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast in honour of the Northern Ireland-based 19 Light Brigade recently returned from the war-zone.

The names of 83 fallen soldiers were read out during the ceremony, among them the two sappers shot dead by dissident republicans at a Co Antrim barracks last March hours before the troops were to be deployed.

The Chief of Defence Staff paid tribute to all the soldiers who had lost their lives, but with Britain committed to sending 500 extra troops and after the US pledged an extra 30,000, he said further progress could be made in Afghanistan under plans by Nato Commander General Stanley McChrystal.

"We are going to have hard times ahead, we are going to have sad times ahead," said the UK military leader.

But he added: "We have now a plan drawn-up by General McChrystal which is a coherent plan to deliver our longterm strategy.

"We now have the resources necessary for him to execute that plan.

"That is very important for all of us."

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