» Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Asked about the Government s helicopter review and when it was likely to be published, the PMS replied that it was not a helicopter review; this would be a review that would be looking at some of the longer term issues around defence procurement. It had a much more longer term focus than appeared to have been suggested earlier. Asked when it would be published, the PMS advised people to wait and see, but this was not a report that was looking at short-term issues around helicopter procurement; it was quite a wide-ranging report and quite long-term in its scope.

Asked why the Prime Minister had quoted a press officer in Helmand three days running and cited his views as being more important than the Head of the Army, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was not suggesting that that individual s views were more important than the Head of the Army. There was a debate taking place where a whole range of people were being quoted, but it would be wrong to say that the Prime Minister was suggesting that this individual was more important than the Head of the Army.

Asked if there was any prospect of the training of Afghan troops being accelerated, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister had mentioned at PMQs that we would be considering what more we could do in order to do more training of Afghan troops once the election period was over. In response to the question of how much the training of Afghan troops could be speeded up, the PMS said that clearly there were resource implications for us but this was something that we would be prepared to look at in the context of wider decisions we took for the post-election period in Afghanistan.

Asked to respond to John Hutton s comment that the crucial moment to review troop numbers was now and not after the elections, the PMS replied that we had increased the troop numbers now and they were in the middle of an offensive operation. That operation was designed to increase security at this particularly important time in Afghanistan and once we were through this period we would keep these things under constant review. Asked if the Prime Minister was confident that General Dannatt s motivation was purely for military reasons, the PMS said absolutely.

Asked which NATO members the Prime Minister had contacted about extra troops and equipment since the last NATO Summit, the PMS said that the Prime Minister talked regularly to his counterparts and this was part of an ongoing discussion. We did make some significant advances at the time of the NATO Summit, which resulted in 5000 extra troops from NATO to cover the election period. Asked to name specific countries that the Prime Minister had contacted, the PMS said that the Prime Minister spoke to his international colleagues and his NATO counterparts regularly about a whole range of issues, but he would not get into the specifics of discussions on military matters between NATO partners.

Asked if the Prime Minister intended to make his answers in PMQs a little crisper in future, the PMS replied that it was clearly important in the Prime Minister s view that there was an opportunity today to update the House on issues relating to Afghanistan. The nature of today s PMQs was different in the sense that PMQs tended to be more party-political in its nature. It was the Prime Minister s view that at this time, given the casualties we had sustained in the last two weeks, it was important that the Prime Minister had an opportunity to explain the Government s position fully.

Asked whether his earlier comment of resource implications for the British army if the training of Afghan troops was to be speeded up had manpower implications, the PMS said that it clearly had manpower implications, but this was a fact that had to be taken into account as we considered and kept under review troop levels for the period after the Afghan election. Asked if more manpower and more resources would be needed to help train the Afghan troops, the PMS replied that that was something that would need to be considered as we continued to keep under review troop numbers.

original source.

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

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