The UK's Foreign Policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan

Letter to the Chair of the Committee from Rt Hon David Cameron MP,
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service

Thank you for your letter of 8 December.

The National Security Council, which of course includes the Foreign Secretary, keeps our force levels in Afghanistan under regular review. It is absolutely right that we do so, to ensure we have the right numbers deployed-no more and no less. No decisions on whether or not force levels will be reduced in 2011 have yet been taken-as I said in Afghanistan and in the House on 8 December, it is possible some reductions could be made next year, but that would depend on developments on the ground.

Since no decisions on changes next year to our force lay down in Afghanistan have yet been taken, it would be unwise of me to speculate further on what the nature of any changes might be.

The Lisbon Summit reached important conclusions about the timetable for transition which will begin in early 2011 and will meet President Karzai’s objective for the Afghan National Security Forces to lead and conduct security operations in all provinces by the end of 2014. We therefore anticipate that as the capability of the Afghan National Security Forces increases, and the process of security transition is taken forward, the role of the international troops in Afghanistan will over time focus less on combat and more on training and mentoring the Afghan National Army and Police.

As William said in the House, this is something I also spoke about in Washington back in July.... I hope this helps.

18 December 2010

Letter to the Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service from the Chair of the Committee

Further to your response to my question today during Prime Minister’s Questions, and in light of comments you made during your recent visit to Afghanistan, the Committee seeks clarification on the Government’s position in a number of respects, as detailed below:

1. When was the decision taken to consider the drawdown of British troops in 2011, by whom and for what reasons? What was the FCO’s role in the process?

2. What will the military drawdown involve? Specifically, how many troops could be involved and in what capacities? Into which activities might British troops be "re-invested"?

3. Who will replace the British troops that are withdrawn? Will it be Afghan or US forces?

It would be helpful if I could have a response to these questions by Tuesday 14 December, before the Committee’s next meeting on 15 December.

In the light of the response to these questions, the Committee will consider whether it wishes to request further oral evidence from Ministers as part of its ongoing inquiry into Afghanistan.

8 December 2010