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British Special Forces To Remain In Afghanistan after 2014?


British Special Forces could remain in Afghanistan after the planned withdrawal of NATO combat troops in 2014.

The current NATO plan is for the Afghan government to fully take over security operations throughout Afghanistan by the end of 2014. It has been widely speculated that a number of United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF), probably much smaller in number than currently deployed, will continue to remain in the country in order to carry out counterterrorism operations. The United States is expected to also pull out most troops but for a select group of special operations forces.

British Special Forces have been active in Afghanistan since early on in the US-led campaign. Elements of the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) were in play as early as November 2001. After the fall of the Taliban regime, UKSF elements carried out a continuing campaign against a growing insurgency, targeting key Taliban commanders, bomb makers and drug smugglers. By late 2009, there were thought to be around 500 British special forces deployed to Afghanistan (a number revealed by the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown).

A smaller UKSF task force is expected to remain deployed to Afghanistan, reportedly focusing on counter terrorism operations against Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.

British forces will continue to train and mentor Afghani troops, mostly at the Afghan Officer National Training Academy, a facility set up with British help.

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