British Troops in Afghanistan to Get U.S. Commander

Royal Marine Commandos in the Kajaki area of northern Helmand

From Reuters:  Almost all British troops fighting in Afghanistan will answer directly to a U.S. commander as part of a restructuring of the NATO-led mission, NATO and the British army said on Friday.

Helmand province, where military operations to oust Taliban militants have long been under British control, will fall under the command of U.S. Major General Richard Mills, who will direct some 8,000 of Britain’s 9,500 troops in Afghanistan.

Major General Gordon Messenger, a British military spokesman, denied the change meant handing control of Helmand to the United States, adding that senior British officers would be based at Helmand headquarters.

"That is simply not the case. This is us doing exactly the same job as we’ve been doing up to now under slightly different arrangements," he told a briefing. "The level of influence and presence that the British have … is considerable and will continue to be so."

The change is part of NATO’s plan to split the regional command for southern Afghanistan into two — Regional Command South, and Regional Command Southwest which includes Helmand province, the scene of some of the fiercest fighting between U.S. and NATO forces and a resurgent Taliban.  (photo: U.K. Ministry of Defense)

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