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Defence Secretary Des Browne announced on 29 March that Britain should be willing to talk to the Taliban and consider negotiating with elements of the organisation.
However, as reported in the Telegraph, the US-UK strategy of relentlessly targeting experienced Taliban commanders – 200 were killed last year and 100 captured – has resulted in the disintegration of the Taliban old guard, leaving a political vacuum filled by young radicals.
This strategy has created a more radical and extreme organisation and an increasingly splintered organisation that is less capable of asserting its authority.
The military strategy that the UK is pursuing is steadily reducing the possibility of negotiations being successful, if they are ever attempted.
At the beginning of April, plans emerged to send 450 additional troops to the country in order to meet the US request that Britain take command of all NATO troops in southern Afghanistan for another two years.
However, paratroop commanders say they want to cut back on Taliban deaths.
Over the past two years British troops have officially killed 7,000 “Taliban insurgents”.
The paratroopers have belatedly realised that this high death toll has boosted the Taliban, with the families of the dead taking up arms against British soldiers, and raised the Taliban’s profile and reputation in the local community.
“We aim to scale back our response to incidents to avoid getting sucked into a cycle of violence among local tribesmen,” said one officer. “This way we aim to continue the process of reducing the Taliban’s influence in Helmand.”
Meanwhile, on 12 March airstrikes ordered by British troops killed four Afghan civilians according to the MoD.
The following week another air raid killed 30 civilians in southern Afghanistan.