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British Troops Under US Command (Helmand)

Volume 515: debated on Monday 13 September 2010

There are no British troops under US national command. The majority of British forces in Helmand, around 6,500, are assigned to the International Security Assistance Force mission, under the command of Commander Regional Command (South West), who is currently a US Marine Corps general. The remainder of UK Forces in Helmand fall under UK national command.

There are elements on the Opposition Benches and in some parts of the media who seem to suggest that coalition warfare never involves, or should not involve, one nation subordinating its troops to another. British troops have been under American command since at least 1917 and vice versa. The system has worked well. Will the Minister give the lie to the nonsense that such things actually impede our sovereignty rather than help it?

I readily agree with my hon. Friend that that must indeed be the case. I must also point out that it has been agreed that the UK will take command of Regional Command (South West) on a rotational basis in Afghanistan. More to the point, we should remember that, as part of the ISAF mission, a UK general currently commands Regional Command (South), which includes troops from the US, Canada, Australia and Romania among others. It works both ways and we are all the stronger together for it.