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Hammond Says Some U.K. Troops to Stay in Afghanistan Into 2015

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said British troops will remain in Afghanistan for longer than previously planned in order to ensure a smooth handover to Afghan security forces.

Forces deploying to the country this October will serve an eight-month tour of duty before coming home, rather than six months, as they had previously been asked to do, Hammond said in a statement to Parliament in London today.

Troops arriving in the middle of next year could deploy for up to nine months, taking a “few individuals” beyond the British drawdown date of December 2014, Hammond said. As many as 3,700 troops may deploy for more than six months.

“The campaign is changing and the U.K.’s military role in Afghanistan is evolving from combat to one of training, advising and assisting the Afghans,” Hammond said. “In light of this, and the changing nature of the operation, we have looked at how we can best deploy what will be declining numbers of troops and smaller amounts of equipment between now and then to deliver the best possible protection to our people while continuing to provide the Afghans with the support they need during this critical transition period.”

Serviceman conducting an eight-month tour starting October 2013 will receive an extra 750 pounds ($1,147) before tax in addition to existing allowances, Hammond said.

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