PRIME MINISTER – PATROLS IN AFGHANISTAN – 23 June 2010

Dr Julian Lewis: What the military purpose is of routine foot and vehicle patrols in Afghanistan?

The Prime Minister: I thank my hon. Friend for his question. We are conducting a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan. He asked specifically about the military purpose of routine foot and vehicle patrols in Afghanistan. If we are going to win the counter-insurgency and succeed in what is called "war amongst the people", we have to be among them, protecting them from the insurgents. That is how we are going to create a more stable and peaceful Afghanistan, from which we will be able to return, leaving the Afghan forces in control.

Dr Lewis: Does the Prime Minister accept that there are other ways of fighting counter-insurgencies that do not involve sending out uniformed personnel along predictable routes, day after day, to be sniped at and blown up? Will he request that his military advisers focus on long-term strategies that could achieve our strategic aims without having to pay such an unnecessarily high price?

The Prime Minister: I know that my hon. Friend takes a close interest in these matters, and I have arranged for him to meet senior officials and military advisers, so that he can explore his ideas with them. All that I would say is that the team that President Obama has put in place, and the team that we have in place of military and civilian leaders, have brought great impetus to the campaign. It is difficult to see, if we are trying to fight a counter-insurgency, how we can do so without having a number of active patrols to protect the people from the insurgents.