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10 Apr 13. Withdraw in good order and engage in Afghanistan’s future, says Defence Committee. At the end of UK operations in Afghanistan in 2014, the best the UK will be able to do is to withdraw in good order and engage with external partners to improve Afghanistan’s future prospects, says the Defence Committee in its report, “Securing The Future Of Afghanistan”. The Committee’s report, which pays tribute to the service and sacrifices of HM Forces, focuses on the planned withdrawal of combat troops at the end of 2014 and the transfer of responsibility for security to the Afghan National Security Forces. The report examines the progress towards a secure and stable Afghanistan within the wider region, including Pakistan, and the plans by the UK, NATO and other allies for a smooth transition of responsibility for security to the Afghan Government and the ANSF.
Chairman of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot, says, “We have received starkly opposing predictions for Afghanistan’s outlook, post 2014. The fact is that the UK has limited influence. Indeed, it is for the Afghan people themselves to determine their own future. However, the UK and its international partners must show the Afghan people that they will abide by their obligations to continue to support them in their efforts”.
Securing the future of Afghanistan requires the concerted efforts of all the Afghan people; regional neighbours, in particular Pakistan; the USA; NATO and other coalition partners. In the process of establishing a peaceful and functioning Afghanistan, the Committee calls for evidence of:
* At least the start of an Afghan-led peace settlement with the insurgency (including the Taliban) supported by neighbours such as Pakistan;
* Open and free elections;
* An appropriately trained and equipped ANSF with continuing financial support;
* A strong judicial system which protects the human rights of all Afghans;
* Economic development aid to continue in support of the well being and safety of all sections of society; and
* Effective measures to tackle corruption, drug production and the drug trade to be put in place.
On the transfer of responsibility for security to the ANSF, the Committee identified significant gaps in necessary capabilities such as helicopters and close air support and medical care from 2015. The MoD needs to work with international partners and the ANSF to identify ways of meeting these gaps before the end of 2014.
The Committee have received very little information from the MoD and the FCO as to how they plan to be involved in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Given there are less than two years before the end of 2014, the report calls on the Government to set out how it sees its future role in Afghanistan. Finally, UK Armed Forces face many challenges in the withdrawal of the military equipment in Afghanistan. As the plans for withdrawal mature, the Committee calls on the MoD to provide detailed plans and costs, in particular, to show that the force protection of personnel is at the forefront of its planning.

House of Lords Written Answers for Wednesday 10 April 2013

Armed Forces: Defence Budget

Asked by Lord West of Spithead: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the 10 programmes from which the largest share of the forecast Ministry of Defence underspend for 2012-13 have emerged.[HL6428]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Our forecast underspend in 2012-13 reflects three factors. First, we did not need to draw on our departmental unallocated provision, a sum prudently set aside as a provision against the risk of unforeseen events increasing the pressure on the defence budget. Secondly, as our plans on delivering commitments made in the Strategic Defence and Security Review have matured, we have reported expenditure between years to reflect our better understanding of when costs will be incurred. Thirdly, we have spent less in some areas than originally planne

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