Skip to main content

International Security Assistance Force

Volume 520: debated on Monday 13 December 2010

There are currently 48 troop-contributing nations and more than 130,000 troops in the international security assistance force. The UK is the second largest troop contributor after the United States, contributing around 7.5% of the total force. This figure is also double the size of the third largest contribution, made by Germany.

At this time I would like to pay tribute to our brave men and women who are serving in Afghanistan, especially as Christmas approaches. Is the Secretary of State surprised that UK troops in Afghanistan account for 43% of the troops contributed by European Union countries? Is he satisfied that our colleagues are doing enough?

No, I am not satisfied, and therefore the Government will constantly be urging our NATO partners to do more. However, it is worth saying that some of the smaller nations contribute disproportionately. In particular, given the difficulties that we face in Helmand, I am sure that the House would like to pay tribute to our Danish and Estonian colleagues, who have done such a wonderful job. In general terms, the message for the rest of NATO is that we all need to act together—and in together and out together.

Has the Secretary of State made any assessment of what he thinks the UK force representation in Afghanistan will be post-2015?

That is necessarily dependent on the security position in Afghanistan, especially as regards the quality—discussed in an earlier question—of the Afghan security forces, but I think it would be reasonable to expect the UK to be in Afghanistan in a training and support role for some time after 2015 to ensure that the legacy we hand over to the Afghan Government is maintained because, in the longer term, that regional stability is important for our safety here in the UK.