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Armed Forces Deployment (Gulf)

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

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If he will make a statement on the size of United Kingdom armed forces on duty in the Gulf.[99858]

How many British troops are stationed in the Gulf. [99863]

I refer the hon. Members to the answer that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave a few moments ago to my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. David) and the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Goodman), and the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham).

With a quarter of the Army deployed to the Gulf, is the Minister confident that there would be enough troops to cover firefighting duties, should negotiations with the Fire Brigades Union break down and another strike be called?

What proportion of the troops deployed to the Gulf are earmarked for post-war reconstruction and peacekeeping roles? How long can we afford to keep them there, and what will be the impact on our other commitments? Does Telic really stand for "Tell everyone leave is cancelled"?

It is easy to be cynical about the deep and complex series of issues that we have to address. As regards aftermath planning—what is to happen in the event of hostilities—a considerable amount of work is going on, so that there is a flexible range of options, because the nature of the environment could range from benign to extremely hostile. We have to plan across a range of possibilities. It would be wrong to give a precise answer to the hon. Gentleman's question, and I am surprised that he asked it in the way that he did.

With the Turkish Parliament's decision not to allow American troops into Turkey, what assessment has the Department made of any increased risk to British ground forces who might have to fight the Iraqis on one front only?

We have to plan across a range of eventualities for the future deployment of forces. Again, it would be wrong to set out the detailed assessment of possible outcomes from the scenarios painted. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would understand that that is important for our own troops and because others could exploit any information that we give.