As the Prime Minister set out on 18 December 2008, Official Report, columns 1233-1235, we will complete our remaining military tasks in Iraq by 31 May 2009 and move to a normal bilateral defence relationship. As part of the future relationship, the government of Iraq have indicated that they would like the UK to continue to provide military training and education. The precise scope of this training and education will inform decisions on the number of UK service personnel in Iraq after 31 July. Decisions will also be based on advice from our military commanders and conditions on the ground. On the basis of our discussions with the Iraqi government to date, I anticipate that this future activity would involve no more than around 400 UK service personnel, which military commanders judge should be sufficient to support the delivery of these tasks safely and effectively.
(2) what estimate he has made of the number of commercial (a) planes and (b) ships to be hired to assist with the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq; and what the cost to his Department is estimated to be.
Plans have not yet been finalised for the recovery of equipment and personnel from Iraq. Until such time, it is not possible to quantify the amount of lift that will be necessary to move all the items and personnel. It is intended, however, that the majority of the recovery will be conducted by surface means using the MOD RoRo resources as far as possible in conjunction with commercial liner services. As the requirement to sustain Iraq reduces, the requirement for the lift will diminish.
Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development (DfID) worked together on planning for Operation TELIC, including on humanitarian and reconstruction issues, and in other areas of stabilisation and conflict prevention. The House of Commons Defence Committee recognised in its report, ‘Lessons of Iraq’, published on 16 March 2004, that DfID was a ‘key player’ in planning for the post-conflict situation in Iraq. This close co-operation has continued ever since.