There is a very strong case for sending more U.K. soldiers to Afghanistan, British opposition leader David Cameron said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
The Conservative politician, who is favored to become Britain's next prime minister, told BBC radio's "Westminster Hour" that he was not in a position to know what exactly the British military would need as it grapples with a raging Taliban insurgency. However, "if what the military are asking for is more troops in Afghanistan to speed up the training of the Afghan National Army, it does seem to me that there's a very strong case for saying yes to that," Cameron said.
"The faster we can build up the Afghan National Army and the
police, the faster we'll be able to 'Afghanize' the situation and the more rapidly we'll be able to end that mission and bring our troops back home."
Britain already has some 9,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, where they have recently taken heavy casualties as NATO forces take the offensive. The United States, which has about 62,000 troops in the
country, is adding 21,000 more, and a review being prepared by Gen.
Stanley McChrystal could soon call for a further increase.
British media have speculated that such an increase would be coupled with a request for as many as 2,000 extra U.K. troops to help train the Afghan military. Britain's Ministry of Defense has declined to comment on the reports, saying only that it was consulting with its allies.
Cameron, 42, is expected to unseat Brown in the next national election, which by law must be called by June 2010. Brown's party has trailed the Cameron's Tories in every major opinion poll since Jan. 2008. One survey last week put them 18 points behind.