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Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Volume 496: debated on Monday 5 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many contacts there were between British forces and anti-coalition militia in Afghanistan in each month since June 2006. (251650)

The Ministry of Defence is currently collating and validating the data needed to answer this question. I will write to the hon. Member when his work is complete, and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Substantive answer from Bob Ainsworth to Liam Fox:

I am writing to provide you with the information promised in my predecessor’s holding replies to your Parliamentary Questions regarding contacts between British forces and anti-coalition militia in Afghanistan on 24 February 2009, (Official Report, column 520W).

The Ministry of Defence has recently completed a review of the data required to answer this question, and has revised the manner in which we classify and present data to ensure consistency.

The numbers of troops in contact events (regardless of the instigator) involving the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and insurgents in Helmand province as part of Task Force Helmand for each complete month from June 2006 to February 2009 for which verified data is available are shown below.

20061

20071

20081

20091

January

60

70

180

February

100

70

180

March

140

80

April

70

50

May

120

60

June

10

110

80

July

120

130

110

August

100

130

200

September

100

130

180

October

40

90

170

November

40

110

200

December

50

130

220

1 Rounded to the nearest 10.

ISAF forces operating in Helmand come from a number of different nations, which often operate closely alongside each other and alongside Afghan Army and Police units. Without undertaking a detailed assessment of each engagement, it is not possible precisely to define in every case whether an attack was aimed at UK forces, at our ISAF partners, or against Afghan units. Data is therefore collected on the number of incidents involving ISAF forces in Helmand without attempting to identify the nationality of the forces actually being attacked. The environment in which forces are operating makes it extremely difficult precisely to distinguish between incidents initiated by insurgent forces and those initiated by ISAF.

This data is based on information derived from a number of sources and can only be an estimate, not least because of the difficulties in ensuring a consistent interpretation of the basis for collating statistics in a complex fast-moving multinational operational environment.

I hope that the above information addresses your concerns on this matter.

I will place a copy of this letter in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) between what dates the reported 84 per cent. increase in helicopter hours available to UK forces in Afghanistan was achieved; (289130)

(2) between what dates the reported 60 per cent. increase in the number of helicopters available to UK forces in Afghanistan was achieved.

The 60 per cent. increase in the number of helicopters and the 84 per cent. increase in helicopter hours available to UK forces in Afghanistan relate to the period from November 2006 to April 2009. These increases do not include helicopters or helicopter hours provided by other coalition forces.