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Afghanistan: Armed Forces

Volume 502: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what mechanisms are in place to assess progress in the training of the Afghan military and police force. (303138)

The progress of the Afghan National Security Forces is regularly assessed by the ISAF forces mentoring and partnering them against the ISAF Capability Milestone criteria.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many districts of Afghanistan are under the complete control of Afghan forces. (303911)

The Afghan National Security Forces have taken on the lead for providing security in Kabul, a process which began in August 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the proportion of recruits to (a) the Afghan national army and (b) the Afghan police force who are illiterate. (303931)

The literacy rates for both the Afghan national army and Afghan national police currently estimated to stand at 93 per cent. for officers, 30 per cent. for non-commissioned officers and 11 per cent. for enlisted soldiers.

ISAF are working to address the low literacy levels with the Afghan Government. This has included letting two contracts to help with the education of recruits to the Afghan national army and Afghan national police.

UK forces in Helmand work to improve the basic literacy and numeracy of members of the Afghan national army and Afghan national police by means of train-the-trainer programmes run by the Adjutant General Corps Education & Training Service and the Ministry of Defence police respectively.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the Prime Minister's Statement of 30 November 2009, Official Report, columns 831-54, on Afghanistan and Pakistan, (1) how many of the extra 10,000 Afghan army troops will be deployed in Helmand province for (a) training and (b) offensive and manoeuvre operations; (304324)

(2) whether it is planned that the extra 10,000 Afghan army troops will be permanently based in Helmand province after their training is completed.

Helmand province is a key priority for ISAF. We continue to encourage the deployment of additional Afghan forces to Helmand; however, this is ultimately a decision for the Government of Afghanistan.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his most recent assessment is of the strength and capabilities of the (a) Afghan National Army and (b) Afghan National Police. (304365)

The total number of Afghan National Army, (ANA) currently stands at approximately 96,000. The ANA has developed well as a fighting force over the last few years and is becoming increasingly capable of participating in operations with ISAF forces as is shown by the role they recently played in contributing to Operation Panther's Claw this summer.

The total number of Afghan National Police (ANP) currently stands at approximately 94,000. Although the ANP capacity has improved through US and EU led programmes, their capability varies across the forces and continues to suffer from major problems including low levels of literacy and high levels of corruption.

Both ANA and ANP played a key role in leading the security for the Afghan presidential election this summer.

We will continue to work closely with the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to build the capacity of the ANA and ANP.