Afghanistan Troops Levels (Election Support)

Defence written statement – made at on 29 April 2009.

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Photo of John Hutton John Hutton Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence, The Secretary of State for Defence

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in his statement to the House on Afghanistan today that our force levels in that country will increase to 9,000 over the course of the Afghan elections. They will then reduce to an enduring presence of 8,300 in 2010. The following units will be committed over the summer:

854 Naval Air Squadron
Elements of 5(th) Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 16(th) Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 19(th) Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 32 Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
Elements of 38 Engineer Regiment
15 Field Support Squadron Royal Engineers
65 Field Support squadron Royal Engineers
Elements of 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group
Elements of 10(th) Signal Regiment
Elements of 4(th) Battalion, The Rifles
Elements of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment Royal Logistics Corps
Elements of 1 Military Intelligence Brigade
Elements of Joint Medical Command
Elements of 2 Medical Regiment
Elements of 4 Medical Regiment
Elements of the Queen's Own Yeomanry
Elements of 5(Army Co-operation) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of No.3 Royal Air Force Police Wing
Elements of 15 Squadron Royal Air Force Police Wing

The House will recall I announced on 16 December 2008 that elements of 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers would deploy from April until August 2009. They will now serve throughout the election period.

A small number of volunteer and regular members of the reserve forces will deploy to Afghanistan as part of this integrated force package. The majority will serve on operations for six or so months, although some may have shorter tours.

These units will provide important additional capabilities for UK forces in Afghanistan. The reinforcement of two infantry companies will enable us to provide extra security during the Afghan elections. We shall also enhance our capability to counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). These devices are a major threat to our troops, those of our allies and to the ordinary Afghan people. We are deploying personnel with a range of skills to detect, dispose and exploit IEDs and to prevent them being laid. Other personnel will improve our ability to defend our bases while we shall also reinforce our already significant reconnaissance capabilities. We shall increase the number of tactical unmanned aerial vehicles. We shall also deploy Sea King air surveillance and control helicopters and the new airborne stand-off radar. These complementary systems track use radar to track movements on the ground. They can help our forces to detect, follow and intercept insurgents before they can lay IEDs.

In addition, the UK will deploy the Headquarters of 6 (UK) Division to command the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command (South) from November 2009 to November 2010. Merlin Support Helicopters from 78 Squadron, Royal Air Force are also being prepared for service in Afghanistan. On current plans, they will be available to deploy by late 2009.