[holding answer 22 January 2009]: It is essential that all personnel are fully trained for the demanding operational conditions in Afghanistan ahead of any deployment. The majority of the preparation for the redeployment of Merlin from Iraq to Afghanistan is taking place while the Merlin Force remains committed to Iraq. However, certain key aspects of the flying training cannot be conducted until the equipment deployed in Iraq is released from theatre.
I refer the hon. Member to the answers given on 17 November 2008, Official Report, columns 134W and 136W, to the hon. Member for North-East Milton Keynes (Mr. Lancaster).