Washington is lobbying Britain to send more troops back to Afghanistan, with the Pentagon concerned the UK’s current plans to back Donald Trump’s mini surge in the country are “not enough”.
The US ambassador to Nato said today that America wants Nato allies to send a total of an extra 1,000 troops to help in the battle against the resurgent Taliban, Isil and al Qaeda.
Pentagon chiefs are understood to be unimpressed with Britain’s pledge over the summer to boost its own contingent of trainers and security forces by 85 to a total of 600.
Mr Trump announced in August that he would send thousands more troops to the country but demanded they be accompanied by reinforcements from America’s allies.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, US ambassador to Nato, said the other forces were needed to join roughly 3,000 US troops who are already on their way to Afghanistan.
A series of visiting senior US officials are believed to have raised the issue in London in recent months.
One source said: “The message from the US Secretary of Defence is that he wants more in the fight. Britain benefits from Afghanistan not being a safe haven for terrorists as much as America does.
“Britain’s offer of 85 is not enough. Britain can do more than that.”
British military trainers have been teaching Afghan officer cadets at an academy on the outskirts of Kabul for five years. Soldiers are also part of a Kabul security force and a small number of special forces troopers are helping their US counterparts hunt down insurgent and extremist leaders.
London has also offered to send aviation trainers to help teach the fledgling Afghan air force, but Washington is pressing for more.
US commanders are also keen for more support in the campaign in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State group.
Mr Trump spent months earlier this year weighing requests from his commanders to scrap plans to withdraw from the country and instead to reinforce the Afghan mission.
The Taliban are increasingly encroaching on the beleaguered Kabul government, while an offshoot of the Islamic State group has also sprung up.
Mr Trump eventually announced he would recommit to America’s longest running war saying, a hasty withdrawal would troops would now “fight to win” because a hasty withdrawal would leave a dangerous vacuum.
He refused to say how long troops would stay, but the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, yesterday said he expected most to be able to leave within four years.
At a hearing before the US Senate's Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, senior military leaders said they foresaw a long commitment to Afghanistan.
"Certainly we may have advisers there ten years from now," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.
General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said "there is no time horizon" for the international military presence.
"We're not winning and it's at a stalemate. That's my assessment of where we are right now. We're not at a point where we can bring a successful political conclusion to the war."
Meanwhile, it was reported that the Royal Navy could lose its ability to assault enemy-held beaches, under costs savings plans being considered in the Ministry of Defence.
Two specialist landing ships - HMS Albion and Bulwark - would be taken out of service under the proposals, the BBC said.