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Safety of Personnel Overseas

Defence – in the House of Commons on 3rd February 2020.

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Photo of Ben Spencer Ben Spencer Conservative, Runnymede and Weybridge

What steps his Department is taking to maintain the security of UK armed forces personnel overseas.

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

The Ministry of Defence constantly reviews the security of its personnel, sites and capabilities to ensure that they remain safe and secure, and that the measures in place remain proportionate, including in response to any changes in threat or risk.

Photo of Ben Spencer Ben Spencer Conservative, Runnymede and Weybridge

I think we would all agree on the importance of protecting our servicemen and women from threats abroad. However, harmful drinking is more common than post-traumatic stress disorder in the armed forces, and double that of the general population. What is the Minister doing to support the health and wellbeing of our armed forces, to whom we all owe so much?

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

My hon. Friend will know that there are specific areas where the armed forces have challenges when it comes to drinking, including alcohol abuse and so on. There are a number of programmes running throughout the military. We have a good record on this matter, but there is more to do. I am aware that this issue is baked into some of the culture of previous years. We are doing much better now, but there is work to do on that front.

Photo of Fabian Hamilton Fabian Hamilton Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (Defence)

Last week, three rockets struck the US embassy compound in Baghdad, leaving one person injured. In the light of increased tensions following the US action against Qasem Soleimani, will the Minister tell us what measures are being taken to reduce the risk to our troops in the region, and will he update us on progress in relation to our counter-Daesh programme?

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

I am clearly not going to go into operational security from the Dispatch Box, but the hon. Member can rest assured that all the correct measures have been taken to ensure that our service personnel are protected abroad, whether it be in Baghdad or the other places where our troops are deployed. The Secretary of State will be providing a formal update on our counter-Daesh programme in due course.