DEFENCE – MARCHWOOD MILITARY PORT; STRATEGIC DOCTRINE – 27 November 2014

Dr Julian Lewis: Many of the specialists involved in the successful withdrawal of heavy equipment from Afghanistan are from the 17th Port and Maritime Regiment of the Royal Logistic Corps based at Marchwood in my constituency, and I hope that the Secretary of State will take this opportunity to confirm that that military port facility will be neither run down nor degraded in any way.

On the question of the lessons of the campaign, it is a fact that there are al-Qaeda-type groups in many other countries, too, and we must develop a doctrine – based on strategic bases and bridgehead areas, as I have endeavoured to suggest on previous occasions – to enable us to tackle those groups without having to take on nation-building from the ground up in every country where they appear, because that is an impossible strategy and we need a flexible, sensible strategy for the future.

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon): I note what my hon. Friend says about Marchwood, of which he has been a great champion. He does not need me to confirm the important role that it has played in the recovery of so much equipment, matériel and vehicles from Afghanistan. I can certainly confirm that we will have a continuing use for that kind of facility.

I also note what my hon. Friend says about the doctrine. We are seeing al-Qaeda in different forms in some countries, and we are seeing it mutate into ISIL. He makes the important point that the western nations are simply unable to reconstruct whole countries time and again.]