My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in offering sincere condolences to the families and friends of Private Matthew Thornton, 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment; Lance Corporal Peter Eustace, 2nd Battalion The Rifles; Lance Corporal Richard Scanlon, 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards; Private Thomas Lake, 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment; Rifleman Sheldon Steel, 5th Battalion The Rifles; Sapper Elijah Bond, 35 Engineer Regiment Royal Engineers; Captain Tom Jennings, Royal Marines; Squadron Leader Anthony Downing, Royal Air Force; Private John King, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment; and Rifleman Sachin Limbu, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, who were all killed on operations in Afghanistan recently. My thoughts are also with the wounded, and I pay tribute to the courage and fortitude with which they face their rehabilitation.
UK force levels in Afghanistan will reduce from 9,500 to 9,000 by the end of 2012. By the end of 2014, British troops will no longer be in a combat role and will not be in Afghanistan in the numbers that they now are. Some UK troops will remain after 2014, including in training roles at the UK-led Afghan national army officer academy. The UK and the international community are committed to Afghanistan in the long-term.