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Afghanistan

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her most recent assessment is of the capacity of the Afghan armed forces to fulfil a role in the security and stabilisation of Afghanistan. (96354)

I have been asked to reply.

Developing effective Afghan National Security Forces is crucial to lasting stability in Afghanistan. So far, good progress has been made, with the Afghan Minister for Defence recently stating that there are now 34,000 officers, NCOs and soldiers in the Afghan National Army (ANA). The ANA is ethnically balanced and well trained, factors that contribute to the high regard it is held in by the population. Those troops deployed in Helmand have fought bravely and effectively alongside our own, enduring considerable sacrifice in pursuit of their own country’s security. ANA leadership and capabilities are developing well but it will take time and continued support before they are ready to take on this task independently.