LONDON: The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is prepared to send extra forces to Afghanistan despite rising opposition to his country’s military presence. Under pressure from military chiefs, he will say he has agreed to send 500 more soldiers to join the 9000 deployed.FULL AFGHANISTAN COVERAGEMr Brown is likely to set a number of conditions to deploying the extra forces, including NATO training of Afghan civil and military personnel, upgraded equipment and a firmly established new government.Britain has the second-largest NATO contingent in Afghanistan behind the US, and the additional forces would bring the British presence to about 9500, which is the highest level since the US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban in 2001.The move follows a series of meetings of the cabinet’s Afghanistan and Pakistan committee, attended by military chiefs and senior ministers. They have been held in parallel with meetings in the US, where the President, Barack Obama, is also under pressure to send more troops.Mr Obama said on Tuesday he would decide in ”coming weeks” whether to meet the request of the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, for reportedly up to 60,000 more personnel.The decision on reinforcements is only one aspect of his review, Mr Obama stressed. Other components include building civilian capacity in the country.The British Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, has described the decision as difficult, saying the extra troops must be properly equipped. On Tuesday, a committee of MPs criticised the Ministry of Defence for not providing adequate armoured vehicles.Military commanders say more forces are needed in areas captured from the Taliban.Mr Brown is expected to tell the House of Commons that he has agreed to send the troops subject to three conditions: that they are properly equipped; that when Hamid Karzai is, as expected, declared winner of the recent presidential election, he promises to deliver ”Afghanisation” of the security forces; and that there is co-ordination with other NATO countries.Guardian News & Media,Agence France-Presse
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