» Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Asked about the Prime Minister’s statement on Afghanistan tomorrow and whether he would talk about troop numbers, the Prime Minster’s Spokesman (PMS) reminded the assembled press that the Prime Minister had spoken about the importance of Afghanisation at this morning’s Cabinet meeting. This involved ensuring Afghan troops and police were both increased in numbers and mentored appropriately.

If there was any announcement on troop numbers, it would be made to the House of Commons first and would also be subject to a number of conditions that had been set out before. This included the fact that troops should be properly equipped, that we were in agreement with our allies and that a change in numbers worked at a local level.

Asked whether it was fair to speculate that any extra forces that were sent to Afghanistan would be involved in training the Afghan army and police, the PMS said that if there was to be an increase in troop numbers that would be something that they would be engaged in. The important thing about Afghanisation was trying to get people on the ground working in partnerships. The PMS added that he would not be drawn on any of the detail in tomorrow’s statement.

Asked if agreement with our allies meant that any decision on troop numbers would not be made until President Obama for example had responded to the McChrystal Review, the PMS replied that it did not mean that. It meant that an important part of this process had been and continued to be the discussions we had with our allies about the wider campaign. Any decision that was made about troop numbers for the UK was something that needed to be seen in that context.

Asked if the official number of British troops in Afghanistan was 8300 or 9000, the PMS said that the figure was 9150. Asked if that extra 850 were permanent, the PMS said that on troop numbers, he would not add to what he had said before. The point was we had that number of troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

Asked whether the troops that had been deployed to improve security during the election had returned to the UK, the PMS said that those troops were still in Afghanistan.

Asked if it was conceivable to have a second ballot before the winter in Afghanistan, the PMS replied that a second ballot was conceivable on the basis of there not being a clear majority. It was a possibility but there was no indication in terms of timings.

Asked if there had been a formal request for more troops, the PMS said that there was no UK version of the McChrystal Review. NSID, the committee that met on a regular basis to discuss all aspects of the campaign in Afghanistan carried out an ongoing review of resources, but there was no equivalent of the McChrystal Review. Asked whether NATO had asked for more troops, the PMS said that they had not, but people should look at the campaign in terms of allies working together.

Put that the PMS had given the impression earlier that any increase in resources would be solely to do with the training of the Afghan army and police, the PMS said no, he was giving an example of what tasks any extra UK troops might carry out.

original source.

Briefing took place at 16:45 | Search for related news

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