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Afghanistan: Helmand Province

Volume 684: debated on Monday 17 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether there is any direct communication between the United Kingdom forces deployed in Helmand province, Afghanistan, and the commanders of Pakistani forces deployed in the immediately adjacent Pakistani province of Baluchistan.[HL6853]

UK forces operating in Helmand can communicate directly with Pakistan forces in Baluchistan, as can our coalition and NATO partners in the area.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What were the planning assumptions as to the numbers of trained members of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police in Helmand province able to co-operate with United Kingdom forces deployed there; and how the actual numbers compare with these assumptions.[HL6854]

The size and composition of the Helmand task force recommended by the Chiefs of Staff and announced by the former Secretary of State on 26 January 2006 was not dependent on either Afghan National Army (ANA) or Afghan National Police (ANP) strength.

There are now about 2,300 Afghan ANP and ANA forces in Helmand. ANA kandaks (battalions) are deploying to Helmand more quickly than originally anticipated, with further troops expected in coming months. As announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 10 July, we will increase the size of our operational mentoring and liaison team to help build their capability. The UK has also deployed a police adviser to work in the PRT to help support the reform of the Helmand ANP and identify how the UK might support the acceleration of capacity-building through training, mentoring and the provision of equipment.