A Royal Marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines, serving as part of Combined Force Sangin, was killed in Afghanistan yesterday.
He was conducting a joint foot patrol with the Afghan National Army to reassure and improve the security for the local population near Patrol Base Almas in Sangin, Helmand Province.
The death toll of our armed forces in Afghanistan has now risen to 286.
This weekend Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, intends to visit Afghanistan where eight thousand British soldiers are to be place under the control of the US in a major restructuring of NATO forces. The southern region of Helmand province, where troops currently take their orders from British General Nick Carter, is to be divided into two.
Major General Gordon Messenger, a British military spokesman, said: "This command and control change makes complete sense and is welcome. The span and complexity of the command challenge in southern Afghanistan has increased enormously in recent months and these changes provide the best command support to the troops on the ground." He said it was 'simply not the case' that the announcement meant the UK was handing its responsibilities to the Americans.
Kandahar, which has become the insurgents' stronghold, is to be the focus of the next military objective - another reason for the split. NATO says operations over the next few months in the area will be of critical significance to the future of Afghanistan.
In a significant shift from Labour's foreign policy, Liam Fox said that Britain was not a 'global policeman' and emphasised that the mission in Afghanistan was about making British streets safer rather than sending Afghan girls to school.
I look forward to hearing what he has to say after his fact finding visit, with William Haig, this weekend.