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EUROPE

20 Sep 10. UK troops in Sangin did not die in vain, says Cameron.David Cameron: “The soldiers who lost their lives in Sangin did not die in vain.”David Cameron has said UK troops killed in Afghanistan did not die in vain, as a four-year mission in Sangin ended. The prime minister said British troops had performed “magnificently” in the area of Helmand province which had seen the UK’s heaviest losses. Of the 337 UK deaths since 2001, a third have happened in Sangin. The UK has handed responsibility for security there to US forces, with 1,000 Royal Marines and other personnel redeployed to central Helmand province. Mr Cameron said: “Look, these decisions are never easy, but this is the right decision. We should share the burden properly with our allies, we should concentrate our forces where they can have the maximum impact. After five bloody summers in Sangin, British troops have handed over control to the men of the US Marine Corps and begun pulling out. A third of all UK deaths in Afghanistan have taken place here in a district that is as important as it is dangerous. The Americans have already changed the strategy on the ground, pulling out of some patrol bases that the British fought hard to establish and protect. The terrain, its location at the cross-section of key routes and a thriving opium trade have made it a key battleground for both the insurgents and British troops. Military commanders insist this is not a case of America coming to the rescue of beleaguered UK forces, but the handover will be a bittersweet moment for the thousands of troops who have fought so hard in Sangin over the past four years. (Source: BBC)

15 Sep 10. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. From 1 Jan 06 to 31 Aug 10, 1,450 personnel were Wounded in Action and 3,819 were aeromedically evacuated. (DASA, 15 Sep 10.) From 16 to 31 Aug 10 the figures were 21 and 58.
The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) praised the Armed Forces for their progress in Afghanistan during his 30th and final trip to the Country. (MoD, 13 Sep 10.)
The majority of British troops in Helmand, around 6,500, are assigned to ISAF and are under the command of Commander Regional Command (South West). The remainder of UK Forces in Helmand are under UK national command. (Ministerial Answer (MA), 13 Sep 10.)
HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps is to deploy to Afghanistan from January 2011 to January 2012. 250 HQ staff are to deploy at any one time, of whom up to 189 will be from the UK. The UK contribution is not part of the UK’s established force level, which remains at 9,500. (MoD, 13 Sep 10.)
“….the opportunity for political reconciliation [in Afghanistan] now exists.” (Foreign Secretary, 14 Sep 10.)
Sappers continue to build a new road linking Lashkar Gah to Gereshk, despite coming under daily attacks. (MoD, 15 Sep 10.)
Comment: General Sir David Richards, CDS designate, was reported as saying of Afghanistan: “We must warn ourselves that we are in danger of losing public support for the war.”. There was said to be a “bitter row” between the Foreign Office and the MoD about how “spin doctors should manage the war.”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANAL

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