DEFENCE – AFGHANISTAN STRATEGY – 17 September 2012
Ms Gisela Stuart: Given the number and increasing incidence of green-on-blue attacks, is the Secretary of State confident about the security of our troops post-2015, when they will be in Afghanistan in non-combat roles?
The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): The hon. Lady will know that we have not yet made any commitment beyond the commitment to lead the Afghan national officers academy just outside Kabul. We have made no further commitment to troops beyond 2014. The National Security Council and the Cabinet will reach that decision in due course. There is no need for us to make a decision at this time. I should also say that there are a significant number of green-on-green incidents as well as green-on-blue incidents. Afghan national security forces – this is partly a cultural issue – regularly turn their guns on one another. It is not clear that this is entirely about ISAF forces being singled out; a cultural issue is asserting itself.
Dr Julian Lewis: The Secretary of State knows my concern that, after the end of the combat role, any mentoring teams left in Afghanistan will become top targets for the enemy. Is this vulnerability one of the reasons why the US is beginning to take seriously the idea of long-term containment using strategic bases? Will our Government begin to take that idea seriously too?
Mr Hammond: Clearly, the US is looking at long-term containment using strategic bases precisely because it recognises the importance of denying Afghan territory to international terrorists. As I said in reply to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart), we have made no decision yet on a post-2014 presence in Afghanistan. Clearly, one factor that will influence us is decisions taken by other ISAF member states.