Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Third memorandum from the Ministry of Defence

Proposals put forward by the Senlis Council

  1.  As promised by Peter Holland, a copy of the 2001 report by David Mansfield (consultant), "An Analysis of Licit Opium Poppy Cultivation: India and Turkey" is attached.[51]

Will Reservists be deployed in Afghanistan? If so: how many, in which specialisms?

  2.  As announced by the Secretary of State on 26 January, the UK deployment to Afghanistan will comprise primarily regular troops. There will, however, be a small number of reservists, initially numbering up to around 100, drawn primarily from the Royal Rifle Volunteers (RRV) and 4th Battalion Parachute Regiment (4 PARA). A platoon from the RRV will undertake force protection tasks in Kabul, and officers and soldiers from 4 PARA will provide individual augmentation to the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) as part of the UK Task Force. In addition there will be a number of logistics and medical personnel deployed with the UK Task Force, as well as a small number based at the ARRC and UK HQs in Kabul and Lashkah Gar.

What is MoD's assessment of the capability of the Afghan judicial system to dispense justice to any detainees handed over by ISAF forces?

  3.  Establishing the rule of law in any post-conflict situation presents a number of significant challenges. After 25 years of civil war and years of misrule by the Taliban regime, there were few recognisable elements of a rule of law process in place in Afghanistan. Progress since the conflict in 2001 has been slow, and Afghanistan's judicial sector capacity remains low. While some 60,000 police have now been trained and deployed, the necessary associated institutional reform of central ministries, and judicial reform more broadly, has failed to keep pace.

  4.  Efforts to resolve this are however underway. Italy continues to lead and co-ordinate international assistance in support of the Afghan Government's efforts, which, in 2005, coalesced around the Afghan Government's "Justice For All" strategy, and in 2006 the strong message in the Afghanistan Compact (launched at the London Conference on 31 January-1 February 2006) on the need for equal, fair and transparent access to justice for all. A UN Development Programme designed to support implementation of the "Justice for All" strategy has now been circulated to the international community, and the UK has agreed to provide $500,000 of seed funding to enable it to begin. This extensive programme seeks to accelerate the pace of judicial sector reform by: pursuing institutional reform of key central bodies such as the Ministry of Justice and Supreme Court; and seeking to improve the Afghan population's access to justice by developing the key infrastructure such as courthouses and prisons. Other initiatives, such as the Counter-Narcotics Criminal Justice Force, have seen progress with a number of successful prosecutions already made.

  5.  The UK is considering the capability of the Afghan authorities to receive and process any individuals handed over, including by making an assessment of local facilities, and based on the results of a recently concluded ICRC study of Afghan prison facilities. We are currently seeking to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Afghanistan that will stipulate not only UK expectations of the conditions in which the individuals will be held, but also that they will be subject to the due process of law. This matter is also being considered by NATO, in an attempt to develop a framework in which all ISAF forces can operate. The fundamental approach to detention remains that this should be Afghan-led, conducted by Afghan authorities, thereby avoiding the need for UK forces to detain individuals.

What pre-deployment training has been given to familiarise UK soldiers with the culture and conditions they will be experience in Afghanistan?

  6.  PJHQ and the three Front Line Commands conduct extensive training for all troops prior to deployment, designed to acclimatise them to the conditions and to hone their skills with procedures and equipment. Personnel deploying to Afghanistan have undergone training in various parts of the UK, which was designed to practise the infantry and vehicle skills required for the full spectrum of likely operations (Operation HERRICK EAGLE).

  7.  ***[52]

  8.  UK troops deploying also receive a mandatory pre-deployment training package which includes cultural awareness and basic language skills presentations, with handouts distributed to all personnel for easy reference. In addition, unit level training includes testing soldiers' ability to operate in replica theatre conditions, with Afghan nationals playing the role of the civilian population and interpreters. Additional higher level training was also delivered for commanders, including a presentation from Dr Sookhdeo (Director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity), a two day theatre Immersion package designed to promote a better understanding of the Afghan theatre, and a joint Inter Agency Multinational Training Day aiming to create an understanding of the capabilities and limitations of agencies operating in theatre. Underlying all these activities is a realisation that Afghanistan is a complex environment, that the consent of the people is a key factor and that this depends on our troops having an understanding of the Afghan people.

Your memorandum of 14 February states that "the UK plans to direct substantial funds to the Helmand province". How much is "substantial"? What measurable outcomes is the UK seeking to achieve as a result of this spending?

  9.  The UK intends to disburse £38 million in the first year of full activity in Helmand. These funds will support activities in the fields of governance, economic and social development, security sector reform and counter-narcotics. The UK outline plan for its three-year deployment in Helmand contains benchmarks, milestones and foreseen outputs and outcomes, designed to build capacity of key provincial institutions, central line ministry representation, and thereby extend the reach of the central government.

  10.  At this initial stage of the deployment—the first wave of civilian staff arrived in the week beginning 20 March—it is difficult to be precise about measurable outcomes, but we would hope to see tangible improvements in, inter alia, opportunities for legal rural livelihoods, the capacity of the Provincial government, judicial system and security forces, and in the Governor's counter narcotics campaign. One of the first tasks of the civilians is to work with their military colleagues to test the outline plan and design the programmes required to deliver it.

Will UK Commanders have money available to fund small-scale local projects?

  11.  Funds for small-scale local projects will be available. But unlike in the US PRT model, these funds will be allocated by the PRT leadership triumvirate of the military commander, FCO political representative and DFID development adviser rather than automatically available to the UK Commander. This is due to the different approach taken by the UK to its PRTs. While the military component will be responsible for overall security, force protection and day-to-day operation of the PRT compound, wider PRT leadership reflects the multi-disciplinary approach of the UK, with a military, political and developmental triumvirate collectively guiding the PRT's interaction with local institutions and the local population.

  12.  The Lashkar Gah PRT will have access, as do other HMG representatives in Afghanistan, to the funds available in the Afghanistan Strategy of the Global Conflict Prevention Pool, designed to support creative and innovative projects to build long-term and sustainable capacity in security sector reform, prevent conflict, and develop a better understanding of local and regional power dynamics.

  13.  In addition, and recognising the need for rapid support to be delivered to the local Afghan institutions, the Lashkar Gah PRT will also have access to a Quick Impact Projects fund, designed to demonstrate the UK's support to Helmand, through short-term one-off projects or donations. Disbursement of the funds will be agreed on a trilateral basis between the military, FCO and DFID representatives, and overseen by the UK Regional Co-ordinator based in Kandahar, who will bring a regional perspective to this short-term activity.

16 March 2006

51   See An Analysis of Licit Opium Poppy Cultivation: India and Turkey, by David Mansfield, Consultant, April 2001. Not printed. Back

52   Not printed. Back

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