LONDON (Reuters) - Britains new army chief Gen David Richards took command on Friday, pledging to focus on the conflict in Afghanistan where 9,000 British soldiers are on duty. Richards takes over as Chief of the General Staff from General Richard Dannatt following the bloodiest month for the British military since the 1980s Falklands War after Julys loss of 22 troops in the Afghan conflict. His arrival will be closely watched to see if it results in additional British forces being sent to the region.As part of the defence team, I will continue to focus on what is needed to meet the Governments aims in Afghanistan and the region, and ensuring the Army achieves the tasks laid upon it, Richards said. The Armys most valuable assets are its people. It is essential that we continue to look after our soldiers and their families, especially those injured or affected adversely through conflict. Looking to the longer term, I will be focusing on making sure that the Army is geared up for future conflict as it evolves in this highly interdependent and globalised era. In October last year, when his appointment was announced, Richards suggested in a newspaper interview that he wanted to see a surge of up to 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, including 5,000 more British soldiers. His comments came shortly before Obama decided to pursue a surge strategy in Afghanistan, sending around 20,000 more US troops to the warzone. Earlier this month Richards said comments he had made about the conflict in Afghanistan lasting up to 40 years were misconstrued and that he did not believe British soldiers would be fighting there that long. Public anger at the rising British military death toll in Afghanistan, which passed 200 this month, has put Prime Minister Gordon Brown under increased pressure to send more troops and equipment. Richards has first-hand experience of the region as a former commander of the International Security and Assistance Force there.