International Security Assistance Force

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 7th February 2005.

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Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Labour, Dudley North 2:30 pm, 7th February 2005

If he will make a statement on the UK contribution to the international security assistance force in Afghanistan.

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence

Around 740 United Kingdom personnel are currently serving with the international security assistance force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Some 550 of them are deployed to Kabul, where they are assisting the Government of Afghanistan to maintain security. The balance of 190 personnel are serving in the UK-led multinational provincial reconstruction teams in Mazar-e Sharif and Meymaneh, and the associated forward support base in northern Afghanistan.

Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Labour, Dudley North

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer, and I am sure that the whole House wishes to pay tribute to our troops in Afghanistan.

I welcome the progress in ISAF's work, but it would be useful to have an idea of when stage two will begin. May I also ask whether ISAF's remit still includes disposing of munitions, and in particular anti-personnel mines?

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence

Stage two is an important next step. It will be discussed at this week's NATO ministerials, and we hope that progress will be made then. We hope to announce later this week our decision, following those discussions, on the form that stage two will take. That, I think, gives a clear indication that we are moving forward.

We plan to move beyond stage two to stage three, and the United Kingdom plans to make the headquarters of the allied rapid reaction corps ISAF's headquarters next year. This is a developing process, which is gaining momentum. As for the details of ISAF's current roles, it is probably best for me to write to my hon. and learned Friend so that he has a full picture of all the tasks that it undertakes. I appreciate his warm support for the work that is being done in Afghanistan.