The UK is boosting the number of personnel dedicated to developing the Afghan National Security Forces by more than 320, Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox said today, Thursday 14 October 2010.
Over the summer, the UK transferred security responsibility for Kajaki, Musa Qal’ah and Sangin to the US in order to concentrate British forces in central Helmand where they are making good progress in countering the threat from insurgents and creating the conditions necessary for secure and stable development in the region.
This rebalancing of forces means that, although UK units will continue to carry out security operations partnering Afghan personnel, hundreds of British troops can now be deployed in dedicated training roles throughout central Helmand. Many will work with the Afghan National Police.
The move supports ISAF’s call for coalition partners to provide more personnel for the training effort and will not take the UK’s force level in Afghanistan over 9,500.
Dr Fox said:
Developing the capacity and capability of Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF] is the best way to ensure the long-term security and stability of Afghanistan, which will ultimately allow us to bring UK troops home.
It is important that we, and other coalition partners, meet NATO’s request for more personnel devoted to training the ANSF. The increase in the number of UK troops dedicated to this vital task will strengthen training institutions and allow UK forces to step up their existing programme of mentoring Afghan troops and police out in the field.
More than 60 UK troops have been redeployed to the Helmand Police Training Centre in Lashkar Gah. The centre, which opened in December 2009, is now capable of turning out 180 newly-qualified policemen every three weeks following an intensive eight-week course run by soldiers from 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Royal Military Police and the Ministry of Defence Police.
Developing the Afghan National Security Forces is a key part of ISAF’s counter-insurgency strategy. They have an essential role in providing both security and governance in Afghanistan.
ISAF is making excellent progress on building up the Afghan National Security Forces and are currently ahead of schedule for meeting the target of 171,000 Afghan Army and 134,000 Afghan Police by the end of 2011.
Afghan National Army Kandaks (battalions) in Helmand continue to improve and they are increasingly taking the lead in the planning and conducting of operations, working alongside ISAF units delivering security to the population of central Helmand.
This summer the Afghan Army proved its ability to lead and plan its own operations, with the success of Operations OMID DO and OMID SEY. The operations cleared vital routes in Gereshk of IEDs and saw the Afghan Army working closely with the Afghan Police. Earlier in the year Operation MOSHTARAK was jointly planned and executed by both Afghan and ISAF troops.
Former ISAF Deputy Commander Lieutenant General Sir Nick Parker has said that the security provided by the Afghan Army and Afghan Police during the recent Afghan elections significantly improved security at polling centres. Afghan forces also run security operations in Kabul independently.
Additionally, the UK is the international lead for support to the Afghan National Army’s Infantry Branch School which opened near Kabul in July. Fifty-six British officers and non-commissioned officers are advising the Afghan trainers, helping improve the quality of leadership and the Afghan infantry’s technical competence in mortars and other weapons systems.