» Thursday, November 26, 2009


The PMS was then asked about Sir Richard Dearlove’s comments on funding in Afghanistan. She said that Richard Dearlove had made a significant contribution to the national security of the United Kingdom but that we would disagree with him on the issues he had raised. The facts were that we have consistently increased funding for the mission in Afghanistan in recent years. Spending had increased more than four fold over the last four years from 750m in 2006/07 to over 3.5bn this financial year.

Asked whether this suggested that there was not enough money in 06/07, the PMS replied that it demonstrated the Government’s commitment to the mission in Afghanistan and the Prime Minister had made it very clear that he would ensure that our troops were well equipped and that they were resourced in order to meet the mission that they have been given.

Asked to respond to Richard Dearlove’s suggestion that any delay in the decision to increase troop numbers was putting lives at risk in Afghanistan, she replied that the Prime Minister had made it very clear that we would increase the troop numbers once the three conditions that he set out were met: that the troops must be fully equipped for their tasks; that the Afghan government in place is ready to step up to the challenges that Afghanistan faces, including to provide more troops for training; and there is an agreed approach across the coalition of all partners bearing their fair share. She said that the Prime Minister had written to President Rasmussen only yesterday to signal the optimistic view he had in terms of other countries moving to increase their share of the burden.

Pressed on whether the Prime Minister believes that troops are being put in danger in lieu of these decisions being made, she replied that any lives that were lost in the armed forces was a source of great sorrow and the Prime Minister’s thoughts would be with the families and friends and colleagues of those who had fallen. She said that the Commanders were on the record as saying that they had the resources in order to meet their mission and that would continue with the full commitment of the Prime Minister until we succeed. She said that we had the troops for the job and the Prime Minister had committed to increase the number of troops and we would expect a decision on that shortly.

Asked about US media reports of 10,000 American troops being deployed rather than 5,000, the PMS said that this was media speculation. She said that we were very clear about our contribution and our commitment. We were the first country to come out and say we would be increasing the number of troops we would be sending to Afghanistan. She said we were now looking to other countries to come forward and announce their troop increases as well.

Asked about commitments from other countries apart from 500 from the UK and 250 from Slovakia, the PMS said that she was not in a position to announce any decisions by other countries; that would be a matter for them. She did say that we were optimistic; we were expecting decisions to be made in due course. The signals were that the efforts of the Defence Secretary in lobbying the ten countries that we had in mind were positive. She reaffirmed that the figure of 5,000 troops is the one the Prime Minister had asked for.

Asked what would happen if we did not get the 5,000 troops, the PMS said we were very confident that we would meet our commitment of 500 as long as the three conditions were met. The Prime Minister would continue to be optimistic that other countries would step forward and share the burden. She said that we had a very clear mission in Afghanistan; the Prime Minister was committed to it and our efforts would continue. Asked if the Prime Minister was optimistic about reaching the figure of 5000, she said that was the number that would adequately see the burden being shared by other NATO members and we would look forward to the announcements made by the other countries.

original source.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

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