» Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Asked for more details on the discussions in Cabinet and whether sending more troops to Afghanistan had been discussed, the PMS said that there was an explanation from the Defence Secretary and the Foreign Secretary on what the latest situation was. As the Prime Minister and others had been saying, this was a difficult period because we were in the middle of an offensive action against the Taliban; we were making progress and the clear view coming out of Cabinet was that we did have the right approach to Afghanistan. We had set out our position on troop numbers, but this was something we kept under constant review.

Put that the MOD had said that 140 troops kept in reserve had now been deployed and was there any discussion on whether any more reserve troops would be sent out, the PMS said that the MOD had reserve troops available. The precise number of troops in theatre at any one time fluctuates by several hundred from week to week and month to month. The announcement that the MOD made yesterday was more a part of their routine operational deployment of reserves.

Asked if there was any discussion about asking the Afghan government for more troops, the PMS said he would not get into the specifics of Cabinet discussion. As we had said yesterday, we were training the Afghan army and they were taking on an increased role, and we would expect them to take on a larger role in the future.

Put that the Times had reported that the Prime Minister was presented with four options on troop numbers and he chose the cheapest option, the PMS replied that we particularly did not recognise any suggestion that the determining criteria was cost. We had increased the amount of troops and we had significantly increased the amount of resources available to support the operation in Afghanistan. The total amount of spending from the reserve had gone up from about 700million in 2006/07 to over 3billion this year, so there was a significant increase in the amount of resources that the Treasury were making available to support the operation.

Put that the Times had suggested that the option chosen was other than the recommendation put forward, the PMS said that there was always a debate that involved other departments such as the Foreign Office and DfID. As the Prime Minister and the military had been making clear and as he had said in the House yesterday, the view of the military was that they did have the resources they needed in order to meet their current operations.

Asked if there was any consideration of the fact that there might be a change in the public mood on Afghanistan, the PMS said he would not get into the specifics of Cabinet discussion. Of course we needed to continue to explain the purpose of our troops being in Afghanistan; that was what the Prime Minister had been doing over the last three days and that s what he and other Ministers would continue to do in the future.

original source.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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