Significant differences in the terms and conditions of employment for military personnel and their civilian colleagues within the MOD make direct comparisons between the two very difficult. Moreover, it is difficult to predict allowances for the whole of 2010, since they are not subject to an annual increase but rather the result of periodic review.
The maximum monthly allowance for a MOD civilian in Afghanistan is £7,750. The quoted figure is before tax and is based on the most senior individual working in Helmand Province, undertaking a working week in excess of 82 hours. Allowances paid to civil servants reflect the significant additional hours worked above and beyond their contracted working week and the unique conditions experienced in theatre. They vary considerably and are dependent on an individual's grade, location and working week. Should the conditions in theatre remain as they are currently, then the quoted figure will remain unchanged in 2010.
It is harder to be precise about the level of military allowances. Service pay and conditions are completely different to those of their civilian counterparts and the precise sum of the whole package that military personnel receive, including the tax-free operational allowances, will depend on their rank, personal circumstances and experience. The military package, which includes an X-factor for all schooling allowances and housing for the eligible, is designed to take account of the unique nature of military life. Full details of the Service Pay and Allowance Package are available on the Armed Forces Benefits Calculator internet site available at the following link:
Current operations in Afghanistan remain the main effort for our armed forces and the Ministry of Defence. We are committed to an enduring force level of 9,500 as announced by the Prime Minister on 30 November 2009, Official Report, column 832-36.
We acknowledge the pressure these operations place on our contingent capability. As I said to the House of Commons Defence Committee on 24 November 2009, readiness levels have improved this year and we are committed to continuous improvement to the UK's contingent capacity, focusing on those contingency tasks most likely to arise.
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 January 2009 for which verified data are available are shown in the following table.
Number of contacts1 2009 January 180 February 180 March 250 April 150 May 210 June 420 July 410 August 400 September 410 October 340 1Rounded to the nearest 10.
Number of contacts1
1Rounded 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 to define precisely in every case whether an attack was aimed at UK forces, at our ISAF partners, or against Afghan units. Data are 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 to distinguish between incidents initiated by insurgent forces and those initiated by ISAF.
These data are based on information derived from a number of sources and can be an estimate only, 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.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement to the House on 14 October 2009, Official Report, column 302, that UK troop numbers in Afghanistan would be increased by 500, subject to certain conditions being met, 1 Royal Welsh were placed on 14 days notice to move. 1 Royal Welsh’s readiness remained unchanged until the Prime Minister’s confirmation to the House on 30 November 2009, Official Report, column 834, that this deployment would go ahead.