A long term commitment?
102. The Secretary of State described the UK force
deployment as "formidable", but so too are the challenges
it will face. It
is essential that the deployment should include the personnel,
assets and protection it requires to fulfil its demanding objectives.
It is also essential that the UK sees through the commitment it
has made to Afghanistan and to its NATO allies.
103. On 26 January 2006, the Secretary of State told
the House of Commons that the UK commitment to Helmand was for
three years. At our evidence session of 7 March 2006, the Minister
was reluctant to specify an exit strategy but he told us that
an exit from Helmand would be possible only after Afghan security
institutions had been established and proven to be effective.
The Minister also said that it was in the UK's "enlightened
self-interest" that the conditions that applied in Afghanistan
leading up to 9 September 2001 were not allowed to return.
do not believe it will prove possible to complete the reform of
the security and justice institutions in Helmand within the three-year
commitment so far made.
Minister's reluctance to discuss an exit strategy from Helmand
is understandable but we believe that MoD should be more forthcoming
about how it will measure the success of the deployment. We recommend
that MoD make public the targets by which they intend to measure
the success of the Helmand deployment.
106. This Committee intends to visit Afghanistan
in the summer of 2006. We will produce a second-stage report,
examining the lessons to be learnt from the deployment, in due