UK — Reduction of 500 Service personnel from Afghanistan explained

The way in which UK forces will achieve a reduc­tion of 500 Ser­vice per­son­nel in Afghanistan by the end of this year has been announced today by Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond.

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Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
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The Prime Min­is­ter announced last year that there would be a reduc­tion of 500 UK per­son­nel by the end of 2012. In a state­ment to the House of Com­mons today, 26 April 2012, the Defence Sec­re­tary announced how the reduc­tion will be man­aged based on mil­i­tary advice.

Out­lin­ing the grow­ing strength and capa­bil­i­ty of the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces (ANSF), Mr Ham­mond con­firmed that the major­i­ty of the 500 reduc­tion will be made up of com­bat troops, reflect­ing the pace of tran­si­tion of this role to Afghan forces.

He also explained that UK forces head­quar­ters in Nahr-e Saraj (North) and Nahr-e Saraj (South) would be merged to bet­ter align with Afghan admin­is­tra­tive bound­aries whist also deliv­er­ing effi­cien­cies and man­pow­er sav­ings.

Thir­ty-six of Task Force Helmand’s check­points, patrol bases and mil­i­tary posi­tions have been hand­ed over to the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces in the past six months, while a fur­ther 16 new posts have been con­struct­ed and occu­pied by Afghan Forces.

“The major­i­ty of the 500 British troops being with­drawn this year will be com­bat troops.”
Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond

Mr Ham­mond said:

“This announce­ment reflects the con­tin­u­ing progress being made by the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces.

“The ever greater abil­i­ty of the Afghans to man­age their own secu­ri­ty is allow­ing a grad­ual and delib­er­ate draw­down of UK and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Forces.

“The major­i­ty of the 500 British troops being with­drawn this year will be com­bat troops, and a fur­ther 200 com­bat troops will be trans­ferred from a ground hold­ing role to Secu­ri­ty Force Assis­tance teams work­ing with the ANSF.

“This will take the Unit­ed Kingdom’s endur­ing con­ven­tion­al force lev­els to 9,000.

“We will also with­draw some com­bat sup­port capa­bil­i­ties for which there is no longer an oper­a­tional need as a result of the avail­abil­i­ty of alter­na­tive weapons sys­tems in the­atre.”

“This will take the Unit­ed Kingdom’s endur­ing con­ven­tion­al force lev­els to 9,000.”
Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond

The Defence Sec­re­tary reit­er­at­ed that the with­draw­al of 500 per­son­nel this year was con­sis­tent with the process of tran­si­tion to Afghan forces agreed by ISAF nations at Lis­bon in 2010.

He also empha­sised the UK’s com­mit­ment to Afghanistan for the long term, as demon­strat­ed by the recent announce­ment that the UK would com­mit £70m per annum in fund­ing for the ANSF, in addi­tion to the tak­ing the lead in set­ting up an Afghan Nation­al Army Offi­cers’ Acad­e­my in Kab­ul after the com­bat mis­sion ends in 2014.

The Defence Sec­re­tary paid trib­ute to the com­mit­ment, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and brav­ery of the more than 100,000 mem­bers of the UK armed forces who have served in Afghanistan since 2001.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK