Afghan troops row escalates

By Liz Stephens

The former head of the British Army has alleged that Gordon Brown had repeatedly refused to answer his calls for extra troops in Afghanistan.

The accusations came just a day after defence secretary Bob Ainsworth was embarrassed by requests for reinforcements from soldiers on the ground during a visit to Camp Bastion.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, who was speaking as he took up his new post as constable of the Tower of London, said that the prime ministers’ refusal had meant the armed forces had suffered.

Sir Richard told The Sun: “The military advice has been for an uplift since the beginning of 2009. If the military says we need more troops and we can supply them, then frankly they should take that advice and deploy up to the level we recommend.

“If you’re going to conduct an operation, you’re doing it for a reason – to succeed. Don’t let’s do it with at least part of one arm tied behind one’s back.”

Sir Richard’s replacement, General Sir David Richards has also called for more reinforcements.

He is said to have drawn up plans for further troop deployments in collaboration with the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

Sir Richard has become increasingly outspoken of late. Earlier this summer, shortly before leaving his post, he issued a “shopping list” of equipment he wanted for the troops in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, the defence secretary was ‘called out’ by troops on the ground during a visit to British forces at Camp Bastion.

Mr Ainsworth asked a bomb disposal expert what he needed most to do his job. Staff sergeant Kim Hughes told him “more troops on the ground”.

The defence secretary was also forced to defend the use of Vector combat vehicles after a soldier was killed on patrol near Camp Bastion the day before the arrival of the two ministers.