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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
More UK troops 'ready for Iraq'
British soldiers in Basra, Iraq
UK troops will be in Iraq for as long as they are needed, John Reid said
Britain is ready to send more troops to Iraq - if they are needed, Defence Secretary John Reid has said.

Nine thousand British soldiers are already involved in operations in the Gulf, and thousands are due to be sent to Afghanistan next year.

Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, a former head of the armed forces, warned the forces were being asked to do too much.

But Mr Reid told ITV1's Dimbleby programme that more troops would go to Iraq "if necessary".

We are there until this job is done
Defence Secretary John Reid

Sir Michael, head of the armed forces from 2001 to 2003, had earlier told the Sunday Telegraph: "The MoD is strapped for cash.

"If we want to remain a global force for good around the world, it seems strange that the armed forces are not being properly funded."

The Sunday Telegraph also reported secret plans to reduce troop numbers in Iraq have been shelved.

'No cutting and running'

Mr Reid said seeing through the commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan were the right thing to do for those countries and the world.

"Our troops will be there until such times as the conditions are met - those conditions being the Iraqis themselves having such democratic control and such security forces that they can take the lead."

The army is overstretched and undermanned
Andrew Robathan, Conservative defence spokesman

He said more troops would be sent to Iraq "if that is necessary".

"We don't need them at the moment. If they are necessary, of course we would do that and when the Iraqis decide that they want to take over the transition and the lead then they will tell us.

"But there is no cutting and running. We are there until this job is done."

He said there was adequate funding available for the armed services, and said, since Labour took power, there had been more cash in real terms every year.

But he added: "Yes, I want to make sure if our armed forces are going to play a greater role in the world than previously that we give them the welfare, the numbers and the equipment that they need.

"So I'm always keen to press the case for more money but, of course, people want the health service, they want education as well."

Andrew Robathan, a defence spokesman for the Conservatives who served in the SAS, said: "The army is overstretched and undermanned.

"Iraq is a mess. And thousands of soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan next year.

"And the MoD is still bent on cutting four infantry battalions."


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