Dr Julian Lewis: What recent assessment has the Secretary of State made of the effectiveness of the UK’s contribution to the future stability of Afghanistan?
[The Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon): The United Kingdom can be proud of its achievements in Afghanistan. The terrorist threat from the region has substantially reduced. We have helped to build the Afghan national security forces, which are now 330,000-strong and lead on providing security. The United Kingdom remains committed to supporting the new Afghan Government and the Afghan forces as part of the new NATO mission after 2014.]
Dr Lewis: As a new Defence Secretary – I congratulate him on his appointment – my right hon. Friend may not be aware of my view that strategic bases are necessary if the hard-fought gains in Afghanistan are not to unravel. Given that we ourselves are not going to provide such a strategic base, what news does he have of whether the Americans will do so, given the recent welcome sign of an agreement between them and the Afghan Government?
[Michael Fallon: I was, in fact, aware of my hon. Friend’s views, which he always articulates so forcefully. The international community has reaffirmed its commitment to Afghanistan at the NATO summit. On current plans, the resolute support mission will have approximately 12,000 personnel. It plans to operate one hub in Kabul/Bagram and four spokes to that hub in Mazar-e Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Jalalabad. We, of course, have made our commitment to assisting with liaison, support and training at the officer academy.]