Britain is making plans to send up to 1,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to meet the call for reinforcements made by the US commander in Kabul. The troops would be Britains contribution to a military surge called for by General Stanley McChrystal, who commands Natos International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan, some details of which were leaked to an American newspaper yesterday. A similar surge in troop numbers was credited with turning the tide in the war against insurgents in Iraq. An extra 1,000 troops, the equivalent of a battlegroup, would increase Britains military presence to about 10,000. Britains force is already the second biggest after the US, which has 62,000 troops in Afghanistan and will increase this to 68,000 by the autumn. In a choreographed plan by the Pentagon and the MoD, Nato would be requested for up to 30,000 extra troops to support the new strategy recommended by General McChrystal. Most of the reinforcements would come from the US. Although Downing Street insisted yesterday that no formal proposals have yet been made, senior government figures acknowledge that a detailed request for more troops is being drawn up and will be presented to Gordon Brown and the Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, once the McChrystal report has been published officially. In his report General McChrystal calls for a surge in troops to accelerate the training of the Afghan National Army. He warns that without more troops and a new strategy Nato will fail to defeat the Taleban. He gives Nato 12 months in which to regain the initiative. The Ministry of Defence, which now has a copy of the McChrystal report, is carrying out a review to see where there are gaps in Britains theatre capability. Mr Brown had previously been reluctant to increase the number of troops beyond the exisiting level of 9,000 but is now said by Whitehall sources to be considerably more supportive of the need for more troops. The reason for his change of heart is that he sees the logic of boosting the number of troops to train the Aghan Army - a crucial step in Nato and Britains eventual exit strategy. The Government and the military now believe that combat troops will be needed for at least another three to five years before there is any opportunity to draw back from the front line, allowing the Afghan troops to take over the principle security role. Decisions on deployments are being delayed by continuing questions about the conduct of the Afghan elections, and it is highly unlikely that more troops will be announced until those questions are settled. MoD officials indicated yesterday that it was more likely that troop reinforcements would be fewer than 1,000. A senior Nato diplomatic source said that Britain had a spare troop capacity of about 2,000 soldiers that could be provided for Afghanistan. However, MoD officials said that about 1,000 extra troops had already been sent to Afghanistan this year - 200 specialists in countering roadside bombs and 700 soldiers for the election period, all of whom are staying, maintaining a baseline figure of 9,000 service personnel. The reluctance by MoD officials to confirm a potential permanent force of 10,000 reflects the concern expressed by Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, about imposing the same pressures on the Armed Forces as were experienced when they were fighting in two simultaneous campaigns - Iraq and Afghanistan. Before the Iraq campaign ended in July, there were 4,100 troops in Basra and 8,000 in Afghanistan. The MoD officials also said that the Government would want to see which other Nato countries stepped up to the mark once the alliances North Atlantic Council formally discussed the requests for more troops made by General McChrystal and approved a force-generation programme for Afghanistan. The senior Nato source said that Germany, France and Italy also had spare troop capacity. However, the death of six Italian soldiers in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan may have put paid to any offer of extra troops from Rome. Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, said that his Government planned a strong reduction in Italy's total contingent of 3,100 troops. "We are all anxious and hopeful to bring our boys home as soon as possible, he said. The German Government might also find it difficult to send more troops given the increasing number of casualties its forces are suffering in northern Afghanistan. The French still have a heavy committment in the UN force in Lebanon and are unlikely to have sufficient troops to add substantially to their presence in Afghanistan until that commitment is reduced. General McChrystals new strategy is based on the premise that more Western troops can mean fewer Western casualties in the long run, provided they are better briefed on how to interact with their hosts. In his report, General McChrystal says that Isaf is too preoccupied with its own protection, too detached from the Afghan people it is meant to protect and historically under-resourced to fight a growing insurgency. The result is a deteriorating security situation, despite the dispatching of 21,000 US reinforcements, and a crisis of confidence among Afghan civilians who might side with the insurgents at any sign of slackening Western resolve, the general states. His assessment calls for classic counter-insurgency operations that cannot be focused on seizing terrain or destroying insurgent forces; our objective must be the population. To win over wavering civilians, Western troops must first guarantee their security, and security may not come from the barrel of a gun, he says. Better force protection may be counter-intuitive; it might come from less armour and less distance from the population. To induce low and mid-level Taleban fighters to switch sides, the assessment says that it must offer them a third option of reintegration, complete with wages and protection, in addition to the two options of capture and death that have faced them hitherto. Yesterday a soldier from the 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment was killed by an explosion while on patrol in the Gereshk district in central Helmand. He was the 217th British serviceman to die in Afghanistan since 2001.