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Armed Forces: Deployment

Volume 479: debated on Monday 29 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what operations British forces have been deployed in each year since 1997; and what the scale of each operation was according to the terms set out in the defence planning assumptions. (218448)

There have been over 100 deployments by UK forces since 1997. These vary in size, for example the current support to the UN Mission in Sudan with only two people up to the deployment of a whole division to Iraq in 2003.

Defence planners use the terms large, medium and small to distinguish the scale of putative or generic operations. These are the building blocks which guide the size and shape of our armed forces, rather than a blueprint for actual operations. Force packages will ultimately be determined by the requirements of each operation.

Nonetheless, in very general terms, of our major recent operations, the size of our commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq both roughly align to the planning assumptions for a medium scale operation with our commitment in the Balkans more closely representing a small scale commitment since the withdrawal of the majority of UK troops from Bosnia in March 2007. The deployment of a division to Iraq in 2003 could be categorised a large scale operation.

The level of concurrent operations sustained by the MOD and the armed forces since 2001 is detailed in Figure 4, Page 44 of the Ministry of Defence's Annual Report and Accounts 2007-2008 Volume I: Annual Performance Report and illustrates our relative commitment to each operation over the last seven years. This can be found at: