How many soldiers have been issued with protective equipment against improvised explosive devices; and if he will make a statement.
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All our deployed personnel in Afghanistan are equipped for the tasks that they are asked to undertake. This includes a range of protected vehicles, including the Mastiff and the Ridgback, which offer world-leading protection against improvised explosive devices. Comprehensive training is provided prior to deployment and on arrival, and a very large part of that training concentrates on IED avoidance and recognition.
In pausing to remember the bravest of the brave who have made the ultimate sacrifice in dealing with IEDs, will the Minister tell us how many people on active deployment in Afghanistan are trained to find IEDs, whether there is a shortage of such personnel, and how many have left the service prematurely on return from duty?
No, I cannot and will not give that detailed information because if I do that publicly, I give it not only to the hon. Lady and our media, but to our enemies in the form of the Taliban. What I can say is that nothing has been given a higher priority in our efforts in Afghanistan than countering improvised explosive devices. That is why we established a 200-strong force last April and why, as recently as December, we committed and reprioritised £150 million towards tackling the lethal threat we face from the Taliban in respect of IEDs.