British troops may return from Afghanistan earlier

British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is considering bringing some British troops back from Afghanistan earlier than expected, he said in an interview published on Thursday.

"I think that the message I am getting clearly from the military is that it might be possible to draw down further troops in 2013," Hammond told The Guardian in an interview at Camp Bastion in Helmand province.

Hammond said that six months ago the military was privately pushing "for keeping force levels as high as possible for as long as possible".

But he said "I think there is a bit of a rethinking going on about how many troops we do actually need -- there may be some scope for a little bit more flexibility on the way we draw down."

The British government has said it intends to pull out all its 9,500 combat troops by the end of 2014.

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