Mr Redwood’s contribution to the Urgent Question on Afghanistan (Force Protection), 17 September

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Given the extensive training that is already carried out over several years, why not end combat duties for our troops now, let the Afghans learn the remaining lessons by experience, and get most of our troops home for Christmas?

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): My right hon. Friend is ignoring the realities of the situation on the ground. UK trainers and mentors have a dual role with Afghan forces. Not only do they enhance the preparedness of those forces, they act as a bridge to enablers such as indirect fire, and helicopter and medical support, which are still necessarily provided by ISAF forces. We have a clear plan to draw down our engagement over two years, and we are steadily withdrawing from combat. To give my right hon. Friend an example, at the beginning of the current six-month tour, we operated 81 separate patrol bases, checkpoints and forward operating bases in Helmand province. That number is now down to 34. We are withdrawing quite quickly from the combat role, but we have a job to do and we will carry on doing it.


  1. Sue
    September 18, 2012

    The question is, how many years do we have to support these people and why should the British taxpayer fund this? Our job is done, this is now something for international forces to take on. We have more than done our bit. Our troops deserve better than to be attacked by people they are attempting to train. Why do our politicians always make the fatal mistake of arming and training people who turn their guns and ire against us? How many fatalities does it take for decision makers to see what is as plain as day to the rest of us?

    1. Mike Stallard
      September 18, 2012

      We ARE the rest of the world! Nobody else (least of all the loud and defensive know all Muslim world) could give a stuff.

  2. Kevin R. Lohse
    September 18, 2012

    In other words, it is now government policy to abandon any attempt to carry the war to the enemy and instead circle the wagons, turning our troops into moving targets for the Taliban to practice their shooting skills. You would think that the shambles of a withdrawal from Iraq would have sharpened the minds of the Great and Good, but no. Once more our soldiers will pay the price of maintaining the “face” of incompetents both in the house and in MOD.

  3. peter davies
    September 18, 2012

    At least they have suspended joint patrols, the Afghans should be able to do that part by themselves by now – I just hope that part of the campaign stays suspended.

    All Forces should now be restricted to fire support only from Artillery and Helicopters to support the ANA and let them get on with their own foot soldiering.

    Too many lives have been lost already – its time to pull right back now and people need to get on the back of govt ministers to make it known that this is a war we do not want or need.

  4. John Orchard
    September 18, 2012

    Lets face it. All the Troops out there from day one are just cannon fodder just to appease Bush. His poodle Blair commited our people where the conflict had nothing to do with us. Hammond is wrong about our Troops not being withdrawn soonest. We all know that as soon as the Troops are withdrawn that the Taliban will take over so get them out now and leave sod all for the Afghans.They don’t want us as they are a Medieval Country and we should leave them to their ways. No more blood shed from Western Troops.

  5. Tom William
    September 18, 2012

    And when we do leave, will the Afghans have effective helicopters, medical teams and fire support? Of course not.

    Will the Afghan forces, particularly the police, be able to defeat the Taliban in our absence? Of course not.

    As a Russian General told Rory Stewart, when asked a year ago what policy he would recommend to ISAF he replied “leave tomorrow”.

  6. Acorn
    September 18, 2012

    JR, there is an excellent article at Stratfor which highlights the ignorance of the US and its client NATO. They just can’t comprehend that a western style democracy may just be morally unacceptable to many Islamic Tribes. .

  7. David Langley
    September 18, 2012

    This is a response lacking in the full light of truth John. I believe we have had many bases in Afghanistan and most of them have been temporary. Withdrawn from due to pressure, failure to support and tactical necessity, IE not enough troops to keep them active. The thought of the Afghans taking to the air or managing to discipline their own warlords etc is a joke. Our up till now Defence Secretary has been got at big time. The bare facts are that we are in a holding pattern and the Taliban know it. We cannot admit to failure because that is the kiss of death to our campaign. Once the enemy believe we are just in an Alamo phase their determination to get rid of us will increase and their hold on the drug infested army and police joke characters will be supreme. Our lads deserve better than this and we will remember them just as much as we remember the lads from Aden, Cyprus and Northern Ireland and the Falklands and all the other stink holes we have endured this charade of Empire and world domination farce in. Sorry if this is a bit strong just remembering most of my career.

  8. The Prangwizard
    September 24, 2012

    We are told every few days that another soldier has been killed, or has died of wounds. It makes no difference to Cameron, Hammond and Hague. They make the ritual words of tribute without much feeling, and then pick up the next item from their ‘in’ boxes. Now, imagine the next soldier to be killed is Prince Harry.

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