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Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the Prime Minister's Statement of 30 November 2009, Official Report, columns 831-6W, on Afghanistan and Pakistan, on what date it was agreed with the Afghan government that the number of Afghan police in Helmand would increase to 4,100; and how many Afghan police were deployed in Helmand prior to that agreement. (304939)

I have been asked to reply.

The decision to uplift the number of Afghan police in Helmand to 4,100 was announced by Afghan Minister of the Interior Hanif Atmar in July 2009. It followed discussion and agreement with the international community, including the UK, at the International Policing Coordination Board, chaired by Minister Atmar. It was part of a review of the Afghan national police by the Interior Ministry, which resulted in the decision to increase the number of police by 10,000 for 14 high-threat provinces ahead of the Afghan elections in August. Prior to that the Helmand allocation for Afghan national police was 3,500.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average annual cost is of deployment of servicemen and women in Afghanistan since 2001. (306453)

The operational costs in Afghanistan are prepared and audited on an annual basis for the whole of the operation and do not separately identify information regarding the cost of each individual deployed in theatre. This is because deployed troops conduct many different tasks, using different equipment, which results in varying consumption rates.

The current forecast of costs for military operations in Afghanistan during the financial year 2009-10 is £3.754 million, as published in Winter Supplementary Estimates, 24 November 2009, Official Report, column 45-46WS. The cost of military operations (Request for Resources 2) is based on the net additional costs incurred for the full cost of items such as transport/movement, consumption, operational equipment and equipment support, operational allowances and welfare, utilities, infrastructure, communications, food, training, medical supplies, as well as non-cash costs such as depreciation and cost of capital charge. The costs that the Department would have incurred regardless of the operation taking place, such as payroll costs, are recorded against the core (Request for Resources 1) Defence budget.

However, a benchmark, based on the total level of expenditure against the total number of troops deployed in theatre in any given period, would equate to approximately £390,000 per service person as set out by the Prime Minister on 4 September 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on the security situation in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. (306468)

[holding answer 10 December 2009]: I discuss the security situation in Afghanistan with my US counterpart regularly. I spoke to Secretary Gates on 1 December ahead of President Obama's announcement that the United States would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Most recently, I met Secretary Gates in Afghanistan on 10 December 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects 8 Squadron Royal Air Force to deploy as part of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force; and what estimate he has made of the cost of the deployment. (306835)

The deployment of personnel and equipment from 8 Squadron, Royal Air Force started on 8 December 2009. The estimated additional cost to the UK of the deployment of the Boeing E3D Sentry detachment is about £1.5 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the UK aircraft deployed as part of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force will fly over Afghan airspace. (306836)

The UK’s Boeing E3D Sentry aircraft assigned to support the International Security Assistance Force will operate in Afghan airspace to meet the need for improved air traffic control in Afghanistan.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where the UK aircraft deployed as part of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force will be based. (306837)

As I told the House on 8 December, Official Report, columns 14-15WS, the UK's Boeing E3D Sentry detachment that will operate in support of the International Security Assistance Force will be based in the middle east. I am not prepared to be more specific as to do so could harm our international relations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans are in place to ensure that Christmas cards and gifts reach British troops serving in Afghanistan in time for Christmas; (307737)

(2) what proportion of Christmas cards and gifts sent to British troops in Afghanistan are expected to reach the troops in time for Christmas.

Mail posted before the last date of posting (4 December) will already have arrived in Afghanistan. All mail is expected to be with service personnel by Christmas subject to the availability of space within the supply chain in Afghanistan.

To ensure that mail reaches HM Forces in time for Christmas, MOD published last posting dates via the MOD, BFPO and Royal Mail websites. In addition, extra space on aircraft was allocated to move mail to Afghanistan and additional seasonal staff were employed by BFPO to process the Christmas mail surge.