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Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

16. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his latest assessment is of progress in military operations in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. (317455)

We continue to work with the Afghan national security forces and ISAF partners to bring security to the Afghan people. The increasing ability of Afghan security forces has been shown recently in their effective planning, leadership and execution of Operation Moshtarak, which is successfully extending the authority and influence of the Afghan Government in central Helmand Province.

19. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his most recent assessment is of the role of UK armed forces in the overall military strategy in Afghanistan. (317458)

20. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the timetable is for transition of lead security responsibility to the Afghan government for (a) each district and (b) the nation as a whole. (317459)

The Afghan Government wants the Afghan national security forces (ANSF) to take the lead and conduct the majority of operations within three years, and to take responsibility for physical security within five years. At the London conference, the international community agreed to support this goal by continuing to improve the capability and effectiveness of the ANSF.

We hope that a number of provinces will transition to ANSF lead by late 2010 or early 2011, with ISAF moving to a supporting role. However, the rate of transition will depend upon conditions on the ground, and the judgment of military commanders and the Afghan Government.