Contributions from Sir Gerald Howarth MP in Debate on Afghanistan

Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): The Foreign Secretary referred to our enduring commitment to the security of Afghanistan. He will know that the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Admiral Jim Stavridis, was very keen that the United Kingdom should leave a residual force of 1,000. We will be leaving about half that number. If this commitment is to mean anything, what will be the mix of the residual forces, and is the Foreign Secretary confident that they will be able to do the job?

Mr Hammond: I should first say that Admiral Stavridis’s comments, as my hon. Friend very well knows, were made in the context of a much higher total number that he was then bidding for to the Pentagon and other ISAF partners. The force that we leave behind will be focused around the training force in the Afghan national army officer academy, the life support troops working with them, the force protection element around that, and a detachment of engineers to support the small helicopter lift capability that we will need to retain in order to get people safely in and out of the officer academy. We are confident that that self-contained force will be adequate for the purposes we have set out.