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Top UK commander to lose job over Afghan war

Britain will replace its most senior military officer, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, over failures in Afghanistan, a top British official has suggested.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Defense Secretary Liam Fox said his ministry will be replacing Sir Stirrup as well as Sir Bill Jeffrey, the department’s top civil servant, by next autumn.

Fox said the move was meant to seek to “draw line” under Britain’s failure in Afghanistan — which has been blamed on the military’s “incompetent” war equipment.

“The last regime allowed our men to go into Helmand improperly prepared, while huge sums of money were squandered on projects such as the refurbishment of the Ministry of Defense,” said Patrick Mercer, a Conservative MP and former soldier.

Stirrup was appointed head of the armed forces in 2006. Jeffrey, who presides over the MOD budget as the permanent under-secretary, has been blamed for the £36 billion “black hole” in military spending.

Fox says he is planning to put the “best people to be in the appropriate posts” following a strategic defense review (SDR) in autumn.

The new defense secretary, who floated the idea of immediately returning forces to the UK, now says the troops could begin coming home from Afghanistan as soon as next year.

There are currently more than 10,000 British troops stationed in Afghanistan, with British deaths reaching 295 since the invasion. The latest death of a British soldier was in an explosion in Helmand province yesterday.

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