» Monday, November 30, 2009

Afghanistan and Pakistan Statement

Asked why the Prime Minister had chosen to mention the deployment of special forces in Afghanistan, the PMS said that the Prime Minister wanted to give a complete and comprehensive account of our military commitment to Afghanistan but for obvious reasons we would not give exact numbers.

Asked how long the special forces had been in Afghanistan or if they were a new deployment, the PMS said that they had been there for some time; the number had been increased incrementally but beyond that we would not give further details.

Put that it was the first time that anybody in government had confirmed the presence of special forces in Afghanistan and asked if the special forces had given their consent for this to happen, the PMS said we were involved in a major campaign in Afghanistan and the Prime Minister wanted to give the most comprehensive account and he had done this whilst being fully sensitive to operational and security considerations. We would not go into the background of who spoke to whom in advance of the Prime Minister’s statement today.

Asked if the surge included an increase in special forces, the PMS said that we would not go into further detail than given in the statement.

Asked when we could expect announcements from other NATO countries on extra troop numbers, the PMS the Prime Minister had expressed his confidence that the numbers would be forthcoming, but it was not appropriate for us to determine at what stage individual countries would make troop announcements. The Prime Minister had had productive conversations recently with the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Australia, Middle East states and Far East countries.

Asked if it would be fair to say that the Prime Minister had committed extra British troops to Afghanistan without knowing what the other NATO countries were going to commit, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was comfortable that the burden-sharing part of the three conditions he set had been met.

Asked which troops would be deployed and when they would be deployed, the PMS said that the extra troops would deploy in early December and would thicken the UK troop presence in Helmand. In late January they would make the transition to a partnering role. It was best to speak to the MoD about operational details regarding specific regiments.

Put that 500 families of those deployed in Afghanistan would be without their loved ones at Christmas, the PMS said that the Prime Minister always paid tribute to those people in the Armed Forces or other public services who were away from their families at Christmas.

Asked by which date the Prime Minister was confident that the extra 5000 troops from other NATO countries would be deployed, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was confident that more troop numbers would be forthcoming due to his assurances from officials and the NATO Secretary General’s comments. Timings were a matter for individual countries.

Asked why the announcement had been made today, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had taken soundings from officials on the position of other countries regarding troop numbers and today the Chief of Defence Staff had approved the resourcing of equipment and it was appropriate that the Prime Minister updated the House.

Put that this surge in troop numbers had to work as there was no alternative, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had set out the strategy in Afghanistan a number of times and the threat that we faced from both within Afghanistan and the border with Pakistan. We were focused on achieving the aims of the campaign and on achieving Afghanisation, which meant the prospect of our troops coming home.

original source.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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