New Inquiry: Ensuring Success in Afghanistan: The Role of the UK Armed Forces

08 September 2010

On 28 July, the Defence Committee announced two major inquiries into Afghanistan. The first inquiry is focusing on operations in Afghanistan. Mindful that for the operational mission to be successful there needs to be a political settlement, the Committee is today launching a second inquiry. This will look at how and when a political settlement might be reached, what such a settlement might look like, and what role UK Armed Forces are likely to play before, during and after such a settlement. This new inquiry will build on our inquiry into the UK Armed Forces operational mission in Afghanistan.

In recent months there has been considerable discussion regarding the timetable for the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and UK combat forces from Afghanistan. The UK and US Governments have stated that their combat forces could start to leave as early as 2011 with a possible target date for completion of 2014/15. Concern has been expressed at the possible consequences of such an early withdrawal, particularly given the large number of players involved and the complexity of Afghan society. The Committee will examine how these issues may impact on the ability to withdraw forces and move towards a political settlement.

The Committee is particularly interested in:

  • the basis of a potential settlement in Afghanistan;
  • with whom within the international community the UK should work to achieve a settlement;
  • the role of UK Armed Forces in helping deliver a settlement and their role thereafter in assisting the Afghan Government in such areas as training;
  • the role of the UK’s new National Security Council in relation to a political settlement in Afghanistan and how will it determine the robustness of any settlement for UK security, including the impact on UK Armed Forces;
  • the potential impact on MoD resources of continued deployment after a settlement;
  • the ability and capacity of the UK Government to communicate the role of the UK and its Armed Forces in Afghanistan to the UK public;
  • factors fuelling the insurgency and what ISAF and the international community can do to address these; and
  • the composition of the insurgency and to what extent it represents a threat beyond the borders of Afghanistan.

The Committee expects to take oral evidence for this inquiry during the late Autumn and early 2011. The Committee would welcome written evidence to this inquiry which should be sent to the Clerk of the Defence Committee by Monday 1 November 2010.

Submission of written evidence should:

Submissions can also be sent by post to Defence Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Individuals and organisations interested in submitting written evidence to the Committee may find the Commons: Guide for Witnesses particularly useful.

Please also note that:

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within written evidence, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included. If a number of published documents are sent to accompany written evidence, these should be listed in the covering email.
  • Written evidence submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organization submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Record Office. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence. 
  • It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases. 



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