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Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on changes in the security situation in Basra province since March. (81138)

The United Kingdom's area of responsibility in multi-national division (south-east) remains relatively quiet compared to other parts of the country, accounting for around 4 per cent. of overall attacks in Iraq. There has been a rise in violence in Basra, and there have been a number of developments since March that seek to address this. The provincial council has re-engaged with UK forces, allowing the recommencement of the full programme of operational activity for our forces in MND(SE). Most recently, we have secured important undertakings from the Iraqi Government on delivering a new security plan for Basra.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training programmes in Iraqi native languages are available to troops prior to deployment in Iraq; what type of courses are taught; what levels of proficiency are taught; and how many personnel have taken each of the courses available in each of the last three years. (82570)

There are three courses specialising in Iraqi language training available for troops prior to deployment to Iraq, each with a different proficiency level. The numbers undertaking this training over the last three years are shown in the following table.

Numbers trained training

Standard language profile level(SLP)

Proficiency descriptor

Description of competence





Survival(one soldier per sub-unit)

Copes with routine, social and practical demands and the most limited work demands. Cannot write in the language





Basic patrol Arabic (junior commanders and soldiers)

Copes with routine, social and practical demands and the most limited work demands. Cannot write in the language





Operational Linguist

Copes with routine social and practical demands using spoken and written skills. Copes with some of the more sophisticated and demanding situations encountered when listening to and reading in the language




In addition to these courses Cascade Training takes place at unit level during pre-deployment training over anything up to six months. The training is undertaken by those who have completed the Basic Patrol Arabic Course augmented by specially appointed and trained Operational Unit Education Officers. Once deployed training is continued by the same staff augmented by the Theatre Education Centre. Every soldier is also issued with a language card which is taught during pre-deployment training and is practised regularly by all in theatre.