The UK’s military commitment in Afghanistan is set to rise above the 10,000 mark, Gordon Brown announced last night.
The Prime Minister confirmed that all the conditions had been met to allow an extra 500 troops to be deployed next month — taking the regular level to 9,500.
However, he also broke convention by giving an indication of how many special forces were active in the country.
In a statement to MPs, Mr Brown said: “I believe the British people have a right to know and deserve the assurance that our highly professional, widely respected and extraordinarily brave special forces are playing their full role not only in force protection but in taking the fight directly to the Taliban, working in theatre alongside our regular forces.
“And I want the whole country to pay tribute to them.
“Taking into account these special forces, their supporting troops and the increases announced today our total military effort in Afghanistan will be in excess of 10,000 troops.”
UK special forces have been operating in Afghanistan ever since the invasion in 2001.
However, numbers and details of their activities have been a closely guarded secret.
Mr Brown said the three conditions for increasing British military manpower — that they would be properly equipped, that coalition partners would also put in extra troops and that the Afghan government would boost its own security effort — had now been met.