<H1>Cameron: Troops Had 'Huge Impact' In Sangin

6:03pm UK, Monday September 20, 2010

The Prime Minister has hailed the "magnificent job" British troops have performed in one of southern Afghanistan's deadliest districts after they passed on control to American allies.

David Cameron said UK forces had "transformed" Helmand province's Sangin district since their arrival in 2006 and had made a "huge impact".
Britain has since lost more than 100 troops in the area during fierce fighting with Taliban insurgents.
Nearly a third of the 337 fatalities the UK has suffered in Afghanistan since 2001 were lost in Sangin.
"The British troops who have performed so incredibly in Sangin did not give their lives in vain," Mr Cameron said.
"They have done brilliant work and we will never forget what they did to make Afghanistan safer and that, in time, will make Britain safer too."
Mr Cameron reiterated the aim to hand over districts and provinces to Afghan control for the next four years, before a major troop pullout in 2015.

'There Has Been Progress In Sangin’

The approximately 1,000 British troops who served in Sangin are now being redeployed to central Helmand.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox said British troops will continue to lead the fight against the insurgency and assist in building a stable and secure Afghanistan.
There are currently about 9,500 UK troops in the turbulent country.
More on Afghanistan:
:: Sky's Stuart Ramsay on the redeployment.
:: Afghanistan Elections: 3.6 Million Vote.
Earlier this year the Ministry of Defence said the handover was an effort to rebalance foreign forces in Afghanistan more equally among the local population as more US troops pour in.

Colonel Stuart Tootal, former commander of 3 Para, told Sky News: "The Americans are now going to focus on the north, the British will focus on the centre of Helmand and another American force in the south.
"It actually makes pragmatic good sense that we take our 1,000 men out of Sangin and we push them into the main British area, which is the main effort now, which is around central Helmand."
Meanwhile, concerns are growing about intimidation and fraud in Afghanistan's election, as claims of foul play filtered in from across the country.
Millions of Afghans voted on Saturday - against a backdrop of insurgent threats and attacks - in the nation's second parliamentary poll since the 2001 US-led invasion overthrew the Taliban regime.
Counting is under way and the first preliminary results are expected on Wednesday.
But the Electoral Complaints Commission is compiling reports of irregularities so that final results can be certified by October 31.

on September 20, 2010 4:47 PM

Afghanistan: 'Job Is Not Yet Done In Sangin'

10:41am UK, Monday September 20, 2010
Stuart Ramsay, chief correspondent, in Afghanistan
For British forces in Afghanistan, the name Sangin is synonymous with death, injury and Taliban insurgency.

For the last four years, fighting in the district has not been relentless - but the damage and fear caused by improvised bombs has been a constant. It still is.
The British have handed over responsibility for the area to US forces with the job not yet done.
UK troops have overseen the development of Sangin centre.
But this crossroads for insurgent fighters, drugs and money is still not under control. The Americans take over with a lot of work to do.
"I think they have got a good bedrock in which to continue," said Major Edward Moorhouse, of Charlie Company, 40 Commando, the Royal Marines.
"I remain convinced we are on the right bearing and I hope and know from talking to my opposite who is taking over this part of Sangin that he will pick up where we leave off, and continue.
"And it is about bringing about security and an enhanced capability of the Afghan National Army and we both hold that as a duplicate end state to get to."
In the past, British, American and Afghan troops have taken the fight to the Taliban.

The most recent operations have targeted their strongholds.
But from now on it is being left to the Americans and Afghans, while the British move and concentrate on central Helmand.
Few would disagree that the original British 2006 deployment to Helmand was under-manned and unprepared for the insurgency that developed.
I have never met a single soldier of any rank who does not acknowledge that there are not and have never been enough soldiers to adequately perform the jobs that the British forces have been tasked with achieving.
This is not a political argument. It is a simple fact.
There are very valid military reasons for handing over Sangin to the Americans, because it is already in their area of operations.
But with such a high percentage of deaths and casualties from a place that the British made quite a thing of being their "manor", it looks like they lost.
As a senior ISAF source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told me: "If the Brits hadn't made such a thing of Helmand being theirs and theirs only, then this could have been nothing more than an ISAF redeployment - no story.
"Now it looks like they have something to be ashamed of. In truth - they don't."
Certainly for some of the British soldiers, leaving the job to someone else will stick in their throats.
There is a lot more work to do, of course, and more British soldiers will certainly die elsewhere.
But the list of dead remembered in Sangin on the memorial plaque there, should now at least have a line drawn beneath it. Sangin is over.