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Military Personnel (Training)

Volume 542: debated on Monday 26 March 2012

16. What steps he is taking to ensure that military personnel deployed in combat zones have sufficient training and experience. (101611)

I would like to offer my condolences to the hon. Gentleman’s constituents for the recent losses to the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment and 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment. The Ministry of Defence takes very seriously its responsibility and duty to care for all our service personnel to make sure they are sufficiently prepared for the job they are deployed to undertake. Training is designed to meet the specific requirements of each operation, and individuals will be provided with appropriate training, depending on the role they are going to perform.

May I remind the ministerial team that it is young men and women who are killed and have been killed on active service? Captain Lisa Head, from the bomb disposal squad, was killed a year ago in Afghanistan, and the inquest into her death takes place tomorrow. The young Yorkshire men who were killed recently were 19, 20, 20 and 21, which makes one wonder whether these young people are sufficiently skilled, trained and experienced to be in such a dangerous position so early in life.

I entirely repudiate what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Army units deploying to Afghanistan go through a bespoke 18-month training progression prior to deployment, which is tailored to the role they will fulfil in theatre and creates a very high level of individual and collective competence. From talking to them out there, I know they will believe that they have had the training they need, and that is also the assessment of the military professionals.