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New proposals will see Afghans lead UK troops

British troops are likely to take part in operations led by Afghan commanders as part of the strategy to prepare the country's forces to take over the security of their country.

Nato forces are moving from ‘mentoring' to ‘partnering', with the setting up of joint headquarters in which senior Afghan officers will play a full part in drawing up plans for missions, as well as taking the lead role in some of them.

The new initiative was revealed by a senior British commander of Nato forces in the country, two months after five British soldiers were killed by an Afghan policeman they were mentoring.

A Canadian platoon has already taken part in an operation led by Afghan forces, and its successful outcome is seen as pointing the way towards the future shape of the conflict. US President Barack Obama, Britain's Gordon Brown and other Western heads of government have stated that “Afghanisation” remains the key plank in the exit strategy from the war.

British forces will train an extra 10,000 Afghan soldiers in Helmand following an agreement reached between Mr Brown and Afghan President Hamid Karzai during the UK Prime Minister's recent visit to the country.

The first joint headquarters is likely to be set up in Kandahar Province, to the east of Helmand, with General Shir Mohammed Zazai, commander of the Afghan army's 205th Corps, working alongside Major-General Nick Carter, the British commander in charge of 45,000 UK, US and other Nato forces in southern Afghanistan

Maj-Gen Carter told The Independent: “We have the technical expertise, the professionalism and the fire power.

“But it is also the case that we are blind in certain aspects of Afghan life. So what the Afghan forces bring provides us with a tremendous advantage.”

“Partnering the Afghan forces is the way forward,” he added.

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