British Troops in Afghanistan Down 20% as UK Follows US Pullout

Wallace: Few options if US doesn't stay

They hadn’t made a big deal about it, but Britain has been slowly paring back its troop levels in Afghanistan, following the US in a drawdown that’s likely to end in an outright pullout. 20% of UK troops have left Afghanistan since February, from 1,100 to 850.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the drawdowns, saying that Britain and other NATO forces are heavily reliant on the US, and would have few options if the US doesn’t stay in Afghanistan. All indications are that the US will not be staying.

Some other NATO officials have suggested a permanent training force in Afghanistan, but they concede that’s highly unlikely, because the Taliban almost certainly wouldn’t accept such a deal. Ousting foreign troops is the Taliban’s goal and would be a post-war talking point.

All of this reflects the belief that the US drawdown is not temporary, and is going to completion. Though Britain’s small presence is hardly conclusive, they’d certainly have good intelligence on US plans going forward.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of