LONDON — Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, recently was asked twice by the Defense Committee of the House of Commons whether the army chief of staff had requested that reinforcements of 2,000 men be sent to Afghanistan, where British forces have recently suffered a string of casualties. Brown repeatedly evaded giving a straight answer. As a result, listeners may have concluded that the prime minister had either ignored or rejected the recommendation.

As a result, relatives of those who have been killed or maimed in Afghanistan may come to hold him responsible. The British government may have good reasons for rejecting recommendations from its chiefs of staff — including requests for more helicopters in Afghanistan — but they should give their reasons and not dodge the question.

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