[holding answer 16 October 2006]: Details relating to the number of troops from the 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare) serving in Afghanistan since its disclosure would reveal the capability of UK forces operating in theatre, and could have a bearing on operational security.
With specific reference to casualties, it is with regret that I confirm that the regiment has sustained three deaths since our operations commenced in southern Afghanistan this year: Corporal Peter Thorpe and Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi on 1 July, and Lance Corporal Jonathon Hetherington on 27 August. Our records do not show any members of the 14th Signal Regiment reported as very seriously ill/injured/wounded or seriously ill/injured/wounded. However, it should be noted that these figures do not include individuals who may have required minor treatment or suffered illness.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) recognises the importance of engaging with local communities, not only to help deliver security but also as a key element of the work of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, who are there to help deliver better governance and support reconstruction and development. Across Afghanistan, Commanders engage with local community leaders, including through Shuras. UK commanders have done, and continue to do, the same in Helmand province.
[holding answer 18 October 2006]: The most accurate figures available for the deaths of coalition and allied troops are on www.icasualties.org/oef. As of 17 October, the total number of deaths of coalition and allied troops was 496.
We have no reliable means of ascertaining the numbers of Afghan combatants or non-combatants killed, but the UK makes every effort to minimise the impact of military action on the Afghan population. Similar principles apply in northern Helmand as for Afghanistan in general.
The costs of operations are calculated on a net additional basis and audited figures are published each year in the MOD’s annual report and accounts. The total annual audited figures for the costs of operations in Afghanistan for the years 2001-02 to 2005-06 were £844 million.