asked Her Majesty's Government:
What military assessments were made prior to the United Kingdom's recent deployment in Afghanistan on the strength of the Taliban and the potential reconstruction and security challenges in that country; what level of troop numbers they envisage would bring peace and development to Afghanistan; and for how long they consider this level would be required. [HL7402]
The Government's decision to deploy as part of stage 3 of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force was based on rigorous UK military planning and assessments, including a preliminary team that deployed in late 2005 to Helmand. The Government's view then, as now, was that the Taliban and other illegally armed groups represented a significant impediment to the country's near-term reconstruction, particularly in the south. That is why we deployed a robust force including attack helicopters and artillery.
The level of forces required for the ISAF operation is kept under continual review. We announced on 10 July 2006 (Official Report, col. 511-17) a number of enhancements to help accelerate the planned reconstruction activity. We are working with NATO allies and non-NATO troop contributors to ensure that commanders on the ground have access to the resources they need to carry out the ISAF mission. Bringing about reconstruction and development in Afghanistan will require substantial economic, developmental and political support for some time to come. The precise force package that will need to be deployed to support the Afghan Government in this task will evolve over time.