Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

UK to keep troops in Afghanistan

Hundreds of British soldiers will remain in Afghanistan after the UK pulls troops out of fighting roles

Hundreds of British soldiers will remain in Afghanistan after the UK pulls troops out of fighting roles, the Chief of the Defence Staff has said.

The Government wants combat soldiers to leave the war zone by 2015, but has said some troops will remain to support and train Afghan forces.

General Sir David Richards believes hundreds of British troops will be committed to the back-up roles, rather than 2,000 as has been suggested.

He said: “We haven't yet decided what the residual figure will be but I think we are looking in the hundreds rather than thousands.”

He also declared he was “pretty confident” the Army could cut its numbers by a fifth without any new redundancies.

Gen Richards moved to reassure soldiers fearing for their jobs amid reports that 16,500 personnel faced the axe, with 2,500 |injured troops, including 350 who had lost limbs, vulnerable.

“The Army has got to get down to about 82,000 by 2020 and that will be quite challenging but there's no new round of redundancies expected,” Gen Richards said.

He dismissed weekend reports that amputee soldiers were being targeted, saying there was “no such policy”.

The MoD said a leaked memo was the work of a relatively junior officer considering all options, and insisted there was no prospect of protection for the wounded being relaxed.

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