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Armed Forces: Afghanistan

Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of all Afghan government military forces are based in Helmand province; and what efforts are being made to increase that percentage. (287272)

The number of Afghan National Security Forces in Helmand province is approximately 7,500, the total number of Afghan National Security Forces in Afghanistan is approximately 170,000.

The decision on where to deploy Afghan National Security Forces is a decision for the Afghan Government. The UK is working closely with the Government of Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force, and the Combined Security Transition Command to ensure that new Afghan National Security Force units are deployed where they are needed most.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK service personnel have been killed or seriously injured while being transported in road vehicles on operations in Afghanistan in circumstances where helicopters would have been used for the transport if they had been available in each of the last five years. (287434)

The Ministry of Defence recognises the vital role that helicopters play in supporting operations in Afghanistan. There are also many tasks that can only be carried out by troops on the ground, and situations in which road vehicles are a more suitable or better means of transporting personnel than helicopters.

It is not possible to make an assessment of whether an incident in which a UK serviceman has been killed or sustained serious injuries could have been avoided should a helicopter have been used in place of a road vehicle. We constantly monitor and respond to the capability and protection requirements of our troops, and strive to ensure that our armed forces have the protection and mobility they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as modern technology allows.