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Afghanistan: Armed Forces

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps have been taken to form local auxiliary forces outside the Afghan National Security Forces in Helmand province. (304351)

The main focus for Afghanistan to be able to take responsibility for its own security has been in developing the Afghan national Army and Afghan national police.

While there have been several initiatives by the Government of Afghanistan to form local auxiliary forces outside the Afghan National Security Forces, including plans for an Afghan national auxiliary police and an Afghan public protection programme, these have not been adopted in Helmand.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information his Department holds on the tribal origins of the (a) officers and (b) other ranks in the (i) present and (ii) expected future Afghan National Army; and what proportion are (A) currently serving and (B) expected to serve in Helmand province. (306746)

The tribal origins of the Afghan National Army are provided in the following table.

Percentage

Pashtun

Tajik

Hazara

Uzbek

Others

Officer

43

40

8

4

5

Non commissioned officers

42

40

8

6

4

Enlisted

39

33

12

9

7

Overall ANA

41

36

11

7

5

We expect the future tribal origins of the Afghan National Army to be consistent with the tribal targets for the Afghan National Army set by the Government of Afghanistan in 2002 which are Pashtuns—42 per cent; Tajiks 27 per cent; Hazara—9 per cent; Uzbek—9 per cent; Other—13 per cent.

As announced by the Prime Minister on 14 October 2009, last year there were only 4,200 Afghan soldiers in Helmand; this year numbers have increased by an extra 50 per cent, to more than 6,000.

As announced by the Prime Minister on 30 November extra Afghan soldiers have started to arrive in Helmand this month with 600 arriving which equates to an extra company for each Afghan battalion there. A further 10 Afghan companies (1,000 more troops) will soon reinforce the Afghan army's 205 corps across southern Afghanistan.

We will continue to work closely with the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to build the capacity of the Afghan national security forces.