Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reorganisation of forces in southern Afghanistan

Changes to the international force structure in southern Afghanistan, including the deployment of the UK's Theatre Reserve Battalion and the redeployment of British troops from Sangin to central Helmand, have been announced today.

British forces based at Forward Operating Base Jackson on patrol in Sangin

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox announced the series of changes to Parliament. The changes will better reflect circumstances on the ground and the earlier division of Regional Command (South) into two separate commands.

Dr Fox said that the elements of the UK Theatre Reserve Battalion, currently provided by 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, will deploy temporarily at the request of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to central Helmand province in mid-July to underwrite recent gains in the area.

Dr Fox said that these additional forces, numbering 300 in total, will give commanders additional flexibility over the summer to reinforce progress in central Helmand.

This deployment, he continued, will be a precursor to the next stage in the phased reorganisation of international forces across the newly-created Regional Command (South West), reflecting the deployment of more than 18,000 additional ISAF troops to the province over the past 18 months.

International Security Assistance Force Regional Command (South West) staged force redeployments

The British presence in Sangin will be moved when the current tour of 40 Commando comes to an end and will be replaced by US forces.

The Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, said:

"The temporary deployment of the Theatre Reserve Battalion will allow ISAF to build on the significant progress we have already made in central Helmand and to drive home improvements in security, governance and infrastructure.

"These forces are also an essential precursor for the next stage of the reorganisation of ISAF forces in Helmand in which we will hand responsibility for Sangin to our American counterparts.

"This reorganisation makes very sound military sense and ensures that UK troops are deployed in the most effective way alongside ISAF and Afghan forces.

"Our Service personnel can rightly be enormously proud of the work they have done in Sangin and the significant progress that they have achieved there.

Royal Marines of 40 Commando carry out a routine ground domination patrol in Sangin

"Sangin is a challenging area of Afghanistan and we leave it a better place. The experience our troops have gained there will be vital in the work they will continue in the important population centres of central Helmand."

The changes in Sangin are able to be made because ISAF intends to restructure its forces in Farah and Nimruz provinces and in northern Helmand so that it can consolidate a US Marine brigade in the Upper Helmand Valley which will assume responsibility for security in Sangin later this year.

This in turn will enable UK troops to be redeployed to reinforce progress in the key districts of central Helmand, allowing those deployed as part of our Theatre Reserve Battalion to withdraw.

ISAF's plan will tidy up the current arrangement where British forces in Sangin come under US command. The result will be a coherent and equitable division of three brigade-sized contributions, with the US in the north and south, and the UK-led Task Force Helmand, with our Danish and Estonian allies, in the central population belt.

During his statement to Parliament today Dr Fox said:

"In Sangin, UK forces have made huge progress in the face of great adversity and we take pride in our achievements there. The district centre has been transformed. Central Helmand is a safer place as a result of our endeavours and sacrifices.

"On the ground, we continue to make progress. There will be hard days ahead, but the further changes I have announced today mean more manpower and greater focus for the key battleground of central Helmand.

"We have the right strategy and we are determined to see it through."

Pictures: Leading Airman (Photographer) Si Ethell


  1. I have alot to say about this blog; but firstly Dr Fox, "We have the right strategy and we are determined to see it through" - YOU SIR, are not there.... - if this area is going to the US, surely it would make more sense for them to join with 40 Commandos now....not in 3/4 months time when their tour is over.

    I would also like to mention that various 'blogs'/internet sites mention that it could appear that 'we' could not handle this area; well, we've been there all along and if that was the case, our troops would not have continually been sent there; however, with Sangrin being the way it is, other international forces should also have been in this area (and I don't count the ANA/ANP).

    This now brings me to the point that this 'war' is an International affair, but yet, the majority of the troops are from the UK - WHY? Hopefully, we are pulling out in 2015 - too long - Poland are looking at pulling out, Germany are looking at pulling out, even the US are, from 2011, so why should be be there anylonger; (please don't mention 'until this country can govern/police themseleves) in the meantime, OUR money is being spent there and we CAN'T AFFORD IT - (I don't care how much money is being spent to try and protect our troops)

    Dr Fox, you make me you really think the majority of the British Public believe that another 300 hundred of our troops will make a major difference to this area - the problem with this area is that the general population don't want us there - they are not helping are troops - and no matter what they try and do for these villages, it will never be enough....

    I am so VERY PROUD of our troops, and they will do what they are told to do...we have lost too many lives in this country (may they R.I.P), we have had to many wounded....but tell me: What are we getting back from this country...the words sweet FA come to mind!!!!

  2. As though Fox has any say in this. How naive. This US decision has undermined our efforts there instead of joining with them and being seen to be partners. Obama delayed how long deciding on troops numbers while we held the fort? I hold the US Administration in nothing but complete contempt. I hope we never again venture into any US led NATO mission. They are completely inept. And the rest of NATO partners could not care less.