UK commanders' ditched plans to counter Afghan Taliban due to copter, troop shortages

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London, July 26 (ANI): Senior commanders of British troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO offensive against Afghan insurgents had to dump plans to counter the Taliban's home-made bomb because of a chronic shortage of helicopters.

According to a report in The Sunday Telegraph, the officers wanted to build a "necklace" of fortified watch towers throughout the southern Afghan province of Helmand to spy on insurgents planting improvised explosives devices (IEDs) - the single biggest killer of soldiers in the province.

The plan that was conceived by the 16 Air Assault Brigade last summer was, however, abandoned because there were not enough troops available to occupy the towers or a sufficient number of helicopters to keep them re-supplied with food, water and ammunition.

So far, Britain has lost 189 soldiers since 2001, and it is understood that the commanders wanted to use the towers as observation posts to be able to direct artillery fire and combat jets on to Taliban positions whenever the enemy broke cover.

The model for the plan was based on the success of a series of watch towers erected in South Armagh in Ulster in the late 1980s to counter the activity of the IRA.

Before the Army constructed its watchtowers in 1986, there were 19 IRA attacks against the security forces in the Crossmaglen and Forkhill areas, resulting in 84 deaths. Following their construction the murder toll dropped to 24 and commanders in Helmand had hoped that a similar effect could be achieved in Afghanistan.

Details of the plan have emerged as the British Ministry of Defence announced that 150 extra troops would be sent to Afghanistan to replace those killed and wounded in recent weeks. (ANI)

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