THE BLOG

Securing the Future of Afghanistan

10/04/2013 22:11 BST | Updated 10/06/2013 10:12 BST

The Defence Committee announced an inquiry into Securing the Future of Afghanistan in June 2012. The inquiry was conducted against the backdrop of the planned withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force combat troops at the end of 2014 and the transfer of responsibility for security to the Afghan National Security Forces. The inquiry examined progress towards a secure and stable Afghanistan within the wider region and plans by the UK, NATO and other allies for a smooth transition of responsibility for security to the Afghan Government and a orderly withdrawal of combat forces and equipment

In our report published today, we concluded that, 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. We do, however, wish to pay tribute to the service and sacrifices of HM Forces.

During the course of our inquiry, 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, we would like to see 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; a strong judicial system; economic development and effective measure to tackle corruption and the drug trade.

On the transfer of responsibility for security to the ANSF, we 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.

We 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. The report also calls for the MoD urgently to develop a policy which protects the position of UK personnel in dealing with detainees in jurisdictions that may not meet the requirements of UK courts.

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.