asked Her Majesty's Government:
How many United Kingdom soldiers and personnel are now deployed or employed in the Helmand province of Afghanistan; and how many of these are directly engaged in reconstruction and development, as distinct from security and defence.[HL6705]
Currently, there are around 3,600 UK military personnel in the south of Afghanistan, in addition to civilian staff from a range of other government departments (OGDs) and from other nations. As I announced to the House on 10 July 2006, the Helmand Task Force is to expand to some 4,500 personnel, including around 320 engineers who will engage specifically in reconstruction work. The primary role of UK forces deployed in Helmand will remain to support the Afghan security forces in creating a secure environment that enables others, including the Afghan Government, the United Nations, OGDs and non-governmental organisations, to engage in reconstruction and development work.