Prime Minister David Cameron informed the House of Commons Liaison Committee yesterday that around 400 UK military personnel had already, or would early in the New Year, leave Afghanistan.
This comprises personnel released by the end of the task for HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps planned for February 2012, the return of RAF Regiment personnel from the Kandahar Airfield force protection task, and the return of a number of personnel who assisted in the transfer of the UK strategic air hub from Kandahar to Bastion.
The Prime Minister made it clear that this does not affect the enduring UK commitment of 9,500 UK troops, and UK force densities in Helmand province remain unaffected. He said:
This year there will be some troops coming home. This is not a new announcement in any way - our enduring force level remains at 9,500. But, as you know, our force level has been above that, if you include Special Forces and some of the extra operations we have undertaken.
If you look at things like what is happening with the troops that went in to guard the airport at Kandahar and also some people involved in the airbridge and some people involved in the rapid reaction force, there will be around 400, slightly more, troops coming out of Afghanistan in the coming year up to February 2012. But the enduring force level remains at 9,500.