Britain will likely follow the United States in reducing troop levels in Afghanistan but it will continue to work with its government and the US to protect the country’s security, Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said.
The Pentagon said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump will sharply reduce the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January.
Wallace said the Americans were not totally pulling out at this stage, and neither was Britain.
But he said: “I expect if they (the US) are reducing at some stage, we will come down.”
Wallace said Britain had limited scope to act independently of its largest ally, but an increased funding settlement he had agreed with the finance ministry would in the future give the country greater options.
“Part of this defence review is how can Britain be more independent,” he told Sky News. “How can we complement each other around the world. If one power or another pulls out and we ... decide we want to stay longer, we could do so.”
“At the moment if the United States unilaterally pulls out of some of these countries we have a challenge.”