The British Defence Secretary today welcomed the decision by Donald Trump to leave US troops in Afghanistan.
Sir Michael Fallon said Britain was playing its part by increasing by 85 the number of military trainers it had deployed in the war-torn country.
The Government could face pressure to increase the UK commitment to the country. The final British combat troops left Afghanistan in 2014.
The US President has repeatedly called for an end to the 16-year Afghan war and campaigned on a promise to bring troops home.
But in a speech last night, Mr Trump admitted a sudden withdrawal of his forces would have ‘predictable and unacceptable results’.
Sir Michael Fallon (file picture in Downing Street) today welcomed the decision by Donald Trump to leave US troops in Afghanistan
The President demanded other Nato allies step up to offer reinforcements to the on-going struggle to stabilise the country, which has endured decades of fighting and terrorism.
MOD sources suggested the White House was focused on the capabilities Nato forces could provide to the mission and not necessarily a surge in numbers. Britain is a mainstay of the training mission in Kabul building up the Afghan security forces.
Sir Michael said:’The US commitment is very welcome.
‘In my call with Secretary Mattis yesterday we agreed that despite the challenges, we have to stay the course in Afghanistan to help build up its fragile democracy and reduce the terrorist threat to the West.
‘It’s in all our interests that Afghanistan becomes more prosperous and safer: that’s why we announced our own troop increase back in June.’
Mr Trump said he believed allies would back increases in troops numbers in a speech evoking the 9/11 attack in 2001 which drew the US into the war, as well as the recent terror in Barcelona.
In a speech last night (pictured), Donald Trump admitted a sudden withdrawal of his forces would have ‘predictable and unacceptable results’
US troops at Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia, listened to the President’s new plan for Afghanistan last night (pictured)
‘From now on victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating Isis, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge,’ he said.
‘We will ask our Nato allies and global partners to support our new strategy with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own – we are confident they will.’
US defence secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement that he would consult with Nato and other allies, adding that ‘several’ had already committed to increasing troop numbers.
Before his election, Mr Trump made repeated calls for the US to withdraw, saying lives and money were being ‘wasted’.
News of the President’s speech reached local newspapers in Kabul today (pictured)
But Monday’s announcement came after discussions with top Pentagon advisers and the intelligence community as well as vice president Mike Pence and Mr Mattis.
Mr Trump said he would not put a timescale on the end of the war but would instead wait for certain conditions to be met on the ground.
He declined to discuss further details on troop numbers, saying: ‘America’s enemies must never know our plans.’
He also addressed his reversal in opinion which he said comes after studying Afghanistan from ‘every conceivable angle’.
‘My original instinct was to pull out and historically I like following my instincts, but all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,’ Mr Trump said.
The US President has repeatedly called for an end to the 16-year Afghan war and campaigned on a promise to bring troops (pictured in Nangarhar province in April) home
He also issued a warning to Pakistan, urging it to stop providing ‘safe havens’ for terrorist groups.
‘Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan, it has much to lose by continuing to harbour criminals and terrorists,’ he said.
Then-president George W Bush sent troops into Afghanistan after the 9/11 attack and while his successor, Barack Obama, increased the military presence to over 100,000 and failed to bring it to a close as he had planned.
Currently there are around 8,400 US troops in the country and Pentagon officials had proposed sending in a further 4,000 to train Afghan forces and fight the Taliban and an affiliate of terror group Islamic State.
There are also about 500 British troops there and around a further 85 had been promised in non-combat roles.