AFGHAN PANIC – calls for back-up will be met says Downing Street

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Military families at the Cenotaph in London are opposed to Bush and Blair’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Military families at the Cenotaph in London are opposed to Bush and Blair’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

DEFENCE Minister Watson was forced to make a statement in answer to an urgent question in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon, after the bourgeois media had expressed the fears of the military that British troops in Afghanistan had bitten off more than they could chew.

Watson said: ‘Yes, our forces have been in action against the Taleban, that was only to be expected.

‘That was why we sent an air mobile battle group, artillery and Apache attack helicopters.’

He did not comment on former Defence Minister John Reid’s statement, made just a few months ago, that British troops would complete their whole tour of duty in Afghanistan without firing a shot.

Knowing that the House of Commons was just as embarrassed as he was by Reid’s statement, he was able to brazen it out, saying: ‘We would not have sent such a formidable package if we did not think there was a real threat to the safety of our armed forces.’

Watson continued that ‘we keep our forces under review’ and that ‘we are working through such a process now’.

He said Defence Secretary Browne will be making an announcement regarding 16 Air Assault Brigade before the parliamentary summer recess in July.

Watson would not go into detail but denied press claims saying ‘commanders have not asked for extra infantry or air cover’.

He said requests had been made for ‘enablers and engineering equipment’.

When pressed by Tory defence spokesman Liam Fox, Watson said any commanders’ requests for infantry ‘will be considered seriously and immediately’.

Taleban militants have fought fiercely against the British in recent weeks. A Parachute Regiment captain was killed on June 12, two SBS special forces troops on June 27 and two Parachute Regiment NCOs last Saturday July 1.

These deaths took place before even the entire British garrison had arrived.

The capitalist press has reported that as many as 1,800 extra UK troops are being sent to Afghanistan to deal with the ‘unexpected strength’ of Taleban fighters.