Over the past few months, the UK and our coalition partners in Afghanistan have carried out a rebalancing of forces within the area of operations covered by Regional Command (South West). In a counter-insurgency campaign, the people are the prize. It is hugely important that we strike the right balance between the numbers of the civilian population and the size of the security forces available to protect them. Over the summer, the UK has transferred security responsibility for Kajaki, Musa Qala and Sangin to our US allies in order to concentrate British forces in the key terrain of central Helmand where they are making steady progress in countering the threat from insurgents and nurturing the conditions necessary for secure and stable development in the region.
As a result of this rebalancing of our forces, we plan to increase by a total of over 320 the number of troops directly involved in the institutional training and development of the Afghan national security forces. This is in line with the coalition’s intent to increase the number of troops directly involved in enhancing the capability of Afghan forces so that the Afghans, in time, can take the lead for security in their country. Of these additional troops, around 170 will be formally accredited on the NATO combined joint statement of requirement, as agreed at the recent NATO force generation conference, while some 150 will take on additional roles that we have identified as a priority in central Helmand. A significant proportion of these troops will be involved in training the Afghan national police.
The uplift in the number of those involved in institutional training and development will not result in a change to the UK’s established and enduring conventional force level of 9,500 personnel.