A number of Allies provide helicopters in Afghanistan which UK forces are able to call upon. The original UK force package deployed to southern Afghanistan to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) included Apache, Lynx and Chinook helicopters, and was endorsed by the Chiefs of Staff. We have recently sent two additional CH-47 Chinooks to Afghanistan. This capability is kept under constant review.
On 26 January 2006, Official Report, columns 1529-33, the then Secretary of State for Defence announced a three year deployment to Afghanistan; this deployment ends in 2009. Troop numbers fluctuate as personnel move in and out of theatre, but current UK troop levels stand at around 6,200; of these, roughly 1,400 are in Kabul and 4,800 are in the South. On current plans, the first substantial reduction in troop numbers will occur when HQ ARRC hands over command in February 2007.
The Ministry of Defence will be seeking funding for the cost of operations in Afghanistan, in consultation with the Treasury, at Winter Supplementary Estimates in November. Parliament will have the opportunity to scrutinise the amount and reasons for the funding sought. The costs of military operations are met, by convention, from the Treasury’s Reserves.
[holding answers 9 October 2006]: Casualty statistics have been compiled centrally since the deployment to Helmand Province in January 2006. These statistics are published on the Defence website, every month, one month in arrears, and are available at www.mod.uk.
Work is in hand to collate the statistics from November 2001, when operations first began, and will be published in due course once we can verify that the statistics are correct as they are held by a number of different sources. I will write to the hon. Member once this has been completed.
Following the Secretary of State for Defence’s announcement on 24 July 2006, Official Report, columns 74-76WS, we have sent two additional CH-47 Chinooks to Afghanistan, making a total of eight, and increased the number of flying hours. The force package is endorsed by the chiefs of staff and kept under regular review.