USA to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan

In an unprecedented move, the Trump administration has ordered the US military to begin preparations to withdraw 7,000 troops from Afghanistan, roughly half, in the coming months.

The decision was made on 18th December, at the same time as President Donald Trump's contentious decision to withdraw the US military from Syria - actions that multiple officials say precipitated Defense Secretary James Mattis' resignation announcement two days later.

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General John Allen, a former commander of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, has said that a drawdown in Afghanistan would be a mistake.

"Pulling out right now, just the announcement would create chaos in the strategy," Allen said.

There are currently about 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan, more than half of which are there as part of a larger NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces. Any withdrawal would be complicated by the fact that the United States is part of NATO's Resolute Support mission whilst the remaining forces are part of the US’s Operation Freedom Sentinel. It could be that the US removes the Freedom Sentinel troops and reduces their participation in Resolute Support.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN on 20th December that "according to our military commanders and everybody I know, we want to withdraw from Afghanistan with honor and do it based on conditions on the ground."

"Based on my assessment in Afghanistan, if we withdrew anytime soon, you would be paving the way for a second 9/11," Graham said.

A Taliban official told AFP news agency: "Frankly speaking, we weren't expecting that immediate US response... we are more than happy."

Meanwhile, Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia programme at the US think-tank Wilson Center, said the impact of the withdrawal could be "devastating" and "would be a soaring propaganda victory for the Taliban, as it could boast that it managed to expel US troops even without a peace deal".

"It [would also] be a major psychological blow for Afghan forces. They have struggled mightily and [this] would be quite demoralising," he said.

It appears that US allies were not made aware of the potential withdrawal. However, security forces on the ground have told the BBC that they would not feel the effect of the pulling out 7,000 troops as long as the US continued their air support. After all, more than 100,000 troops were withdrawn in 2014 when responsibility was transferred back to the Afghan forces.

News about the Afghanistan plan comes a day after Trump ordered the "full" and "rapid" withdrawal of American troops from Syria, declaring the defeat of the so-called Islamic State. This appears to be a decision made without any planning and will leave the Kurdish forces unsupported, open to attack from Turkish forces, so-called IS remnants and the Assad regime.

The decision, a sharp reversal from previously stated policy, surprised foreign allies and US lawmakers, sparking angry rebukes, rebuttals and warnings of intensified congressional oversight even as the White House said troops are already on their way home.

"We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency," Trump tweeted the morning after.

However, regardless of the numbers present or the apparent state of the conflict, Bentley Walker will continue to proudly support the service personnel by ensuring they have fast and stable links back home.

iDirect iQ now available on all networks outside Europe

Worldwide networks revolutionised with implementation of latest hardware

Portsmouth, UK, December 21, 2018 - Bentley Walker, the largest supplier and operator of VSAT Networks outside of North America, has announced today that it will release the iDirect iQ Desktop and iDirect iQ 200 modems for all Freedomsat networks outside Europe by the end of January. The upgrade will provide higher efficiencies and superior throughputs at better prices for customers and resellers alike.

Matthew Walker, MD of Bentley Walker, said:

“The iQ modem allows us to provide throughputs over 100Mbps and efficiencies up to 256APSK. The iQ Desktop harnesses the power of an Evolution X7 at almost half the price of the Evolution X1 - making it not only better for the end user, but more accessible too - without mentioning the racehorse that is the iQ 200. This is an exciting development and one that our partners have shown a great interest in - so we are thrilled that we can implement it at the start of next year.”

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Over the course of the next month, the Network Operation Centres (NOCs) will be upgraded to support the iDirect iQ series alongside the existing ‘legacy’ series of iDirect Evolution modems (X1/X3/X5/X7). This will be rolled out at the Cyprus NOC (for Hylas 2 in south Iraq and South Sudan), Mount Jackson NOC (for T11 and T12v) and Cobbett Hill NOC (for AM8 and AM6). This means all our Ka-band, Ku-band and C-band networks (excluding Tooway and Avanti) will start to run on the iQ series as standard. However, legacy hardware will not need to be replaced and our partners can continue to operate with a mixture of modems - offering even more flexibility and opportunities.

Anthony Walker, CEO of Bentley Walker, said:

“The iQ Desktop is a game changer for our business. It unlocks a new era of satellite connectivity and opens attractive new opportunities. We believe that iDirect has the best DVB-S2X product in the market and gives us a true leadership edge. As iDirect expands the iQ series product line, we will continue to deepen our investment to bring continuous value to our customers, staying ahead of demand in this dynamic market.”

For more details on these modems and the services available for existing or new customers/partners, we encourage you to get in touch with the Sales Department on 0044 2392 311 103 or sales@bentleywalker.com.

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About Bentley Walker
Bentley Walker is ranked as the largest supplier and operator of VSAT Networks outside of North America. Comsys independently audited Bentley Walker as having around 45% of the Market in Europe and the Middle East, to date having sold and brought online over 40,000 VSATs.

Bentley Walker Ltd and Bentley Telecom are both privately owned Companies, the former started in 1947 by the Late LT Commander C Walker (George Cross DSC, DSO, DFC) RNVR in 1947 and is currently run and owned by Mr. Anthony Walker and Mr. Matthew Walker.