22 Sep 2013 By Ben Farmer, Defence Correspondent
Military leaders are pushing a plan to keep up to 200 British troops in Helmand after the pullout of Nato combat forces from Afghanistan next year, The Telegraph has learnt.
The proposal is the first official acknowledgment that Britain could keep forces in the province where nearly 450 troops have died in seven years of fighting.
Senior commanders are concerned the fledgling Afghan army will not be ready to face the Taliban on its own by the end of next year and a total pullout from Helmand risks squandering years of hard work.
They also worry a reluctance to draw up plans for Helmand after 2014 is undermining Afghan forces’ morale and weakening British influence in Kabul.
The proposal would see up to 200 British troops stay at Camp Bastion to work as advisers at the headquarters of the province’s Afghan army corps, senior military sources said.