A senior Army officer who led British troops in southern Afghanistan has said there had been “significant change” in the war-torn nation over the past year and clamed “the tide is turning”.
Major General Nick Carter said Taliban insurgents had been weakened by the efforts of allied forces, transforming the lives of Afghan civilians for the better.
Maj Gen Carter, who has just returned home after spending the past year as Commander Regional Command South, told a national newspaper: “The last year has seen significant change in southern Afghanistan.
“An uplift of over 20,000 US troops and, importantly, a huge increase in Afghan security forces has more than doubled the number of forces in Helmand and Kandahar.
“When I arrived last October there was one weak Afghan Army brigade in Helmand and one in Kandahar. When I left a week ago these had increased to nearly six. The Afghan Police has also been uplifted by 30%.”
He said British forces were helping to transform the lives of Afghan civilians.
“They are now more likely to be able to leave their homes, tend their fields and take their produce to the local bazaar,” he said.
“Their children will have access to a school, they will be able to attend community council meetings, listen to a radio and use a mobile telephone.
“Before now, these basic rights – which we take for granted – would have been denied by the insurgents.”
Maj Gen Carter, who was in charge of more than 30,000 International Security Assistance Force troops from 46 countries, also said 80% of IEDs were reported rather than being left to explode in the last six weeks.