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Raiding role for British troops

By CNN's Richard Quest

LONDON, England (CNN) -- British troops will work in raiding parties in Afghanistan and not form part of any major invasion force, a senior British defence official has told CNN.

Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, said the raiding parties will search out targets such as drug fields and factories, munition dumps, clusters of military personnel and communications systems.

The length of the missions would be counted in hours, not days, he predicted.

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"If the Taliban sniff the air, somebody will be looking," he said.

He was speaking on Friday after UK Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram told the House of Commons that Britain was deploying a force of 4,200 personnel and a fleet of warships in the fight against terror.

The personnel involved will include 200 Commando Royal Marines to assist the military campaign in Afghanistan, Ingram said.

Though the activities of the British troops will be coordinated with U.S. forces, Boyce said the British will work independently.

But he warned that their task would not be easy.

The complexity of Afghanistan's society and the imminent onset of winter and Ramadan will combine to make it the most difficult military operation in his career, he predicted.

A strategic policy group has been set up to look at a range of ideas about how to tackle the war.

Boyce said it was important to understand the mindset of the Taliban fighters, and compared the battle to the fight against communism, noting that that took 50 years.

No rule book has been written that provides guidance on how to fight the war, he said.

Critical to the success of any mission will be ground intelligence, he said. Although some has been provided, more is needed, he added.

Ingram said the UK force will include the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, the destroyer HMS Southampton, the frigate HMS Cornwall and "a submarine presence able to launch Tomahawk missiles."

In addition, seven Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships and four support aircraft, consisting of Nimrod maritime patrol and Hercules transport planes will be part of the force.



 
 
 
 


RELATED STORY:
• British ground troops on standby
October 26, 2001

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