Caroline welcomes Afghanistan progress

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage questioned the Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond on UK troop numbers in Parliament today.

In a Ministerial Statement to the House the Defence Secretary provided further details of the UK's planned withdrawal from Afghanistan scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.

Mr Hammond revealed that improvements in the capability of the Afghan Army and Afghan Police meant it was safe for the first batch of combat forces to come home.

Given her strong track-record of speaking up for our armed forces, Caroline was keen to secure a commitment from the Secretary of State that UK Forces would not be required to fulfil additional roles between now and the end of 2014 and asked him to:

"Assure the House that UK troops will not be required to backfill any areas that US forces withdraw from in Helmand?"

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond gave his support and said that:

"The UK's area of operations in central Helmand will remain our focus, we do not intend to extend our area of operations and the US forces drawing down will be replaced by Afghan security forces".

This will come as welcome news to all those who wish for Afghanistan to return to normality.