UK troops to stay in Afghanistan
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told Parliament on Tuesday that “we have now concluded that we should maintain the scale of the UK’s current military mission in the country in 2016, to help build a secure and stable Afghanistan.”
The last 450 UK troops had been due to withdraw in 2015.
Fallon said that the government "recognized it would take time" for security forces to "develop into a fully-fledged fighting force capable of providing complete security for the people of Afghanistan.”
"We therefore made plans to review our commitment in light of its performance over the year and the overall security situation," he added.
The mentoring program has been mired in controversy from the get-go.
During the latter stages of combat operations, the training process was punctuated by ‘green-on-blue’ or ‘insider’ attacks, in which supposedly loyal Afghan security personnel would turn on and attempt to kill the Coalition troops assigned to mentor them. On a number of occasions deaths occurred.
In mid-September, it was predicted that Kajaki dam, a key hydro-electric facility which supplies water to large parts of Helmand province, and a strategic location for which many British troops died, looked likely to fall into the hands of the resurgent Taliban.
Local officials working at the dam warned that up to 25 engineers, including Britons, have been evacuated to Kandahar in the wake of Taliban encroachment.
US forces were compelled to carry out three separate airstrikes to defend the area from the advance of insurgents, US military officials have said.
Kajaki borders the Musa Qaleh district, another epicenter for British military deaths and injuries during the worst of the fighting, which also reportedly fell to the Taliban in late August.