Coalition forces – United Kingdom

Coalition forces – United Kingdom

Government sources

Operations in Afghanistan, Defence News, Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom.

A number of detailed fact sheets and updates.

Official blog for UK Military Operations in Afghanistan, Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom.

Military Operations: Briefing Maps, Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom.

Parliamentary sources

UK Operations in Afghanistan, Thirteenth Report, Defence Committee, House of Commons, United Kingdom, 3 July 2007.

The report contains a detailed analysis of mission, forces, bases, and policies, and muted criticism (see Wood, below). Oral and written evidence sections are useful.

“7. Between 2002 and 2006 the UK contribution to ISAF comprised:

•    A Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Maymaneh between 2002 and 1 September 2005 when responsibility was handed over to Norway;

•    a PRT in the north of Afghanistan based at Mazar-e-Sharif, handed over to Sweden in March 2006;

•    the Forward Support Base and Quick Reaction Force for Area North (troops which could be deployed speedily to deal with outbreaks of unrest);

•    an infantry company that served as the Kabul Patrol Company (KPC) in Kabul, and staff officers in HQ ISAF;

•    a training team for the Afghan National Army; and

•    a detachment of six (subsequently increased to eight) Harrier GR7 / 9 aircraft, based at Kandahar, which provided both ISAF and OEF with air support and air reconnaissance.

“8. Since May 2006, the UK military presence in Afghanistan has comprised:

•    the leadership, between May 2006 and February 2007, of the ISAF IX mission by the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) and its support Brigade, 1 Signal Brigade. In total, approximately 2,000 UK personnel were deployed in, or in support of, HQ ARRC;

•    since February 2007, 136 personnel deployed to the ISAF X Headquarters (including the ISAF Deputy Commander Stability);

•    since May 2006 the deployment of UK forces to Southern Afghanistan as part of the ISAF mission. The initial deployment comprised a 3,300 strong force whose main component was 16 Air Assault Brigade. Since April 2007, the Force has been spearheaded by the 5,800 strong 12 Mechanised Brigade and supported by the Joint Helicopter Force-Afghanistan comprising Apache, Chinook and Lynx helicopters; and

•    Eight Harrier GR7/9 aircraft, based at Kandahar, which provide both ISAF and OEF with air support and air reconnaissance.

“On 26 February 2007, the Secretary of State announced the deployment of an additional 1,400 Service personnel comprising a battlegroup to be deployed in the South, an additional four Harrier GR9s, four Sea King helicopters and an additional C-130 Hercules.”


Footy hopeful’s sights set on Afghan action, Peter Wilson, The Australia, 19 February 2010

By September, when his footy mates back at Heywood, near Traralgon, are gearing up for the finals, Nikolajew and 14 other members of the Brisbane-based 1st Field Regiment will be flying to Helmand province attached to a British regiment.

Nikolajew was one of six men chosen from about 40 in his regiment with the rank of gunner for the six-month assignment, the sixth time in the past three years that such a group of Australians have been attached to a British regiment in Afghanistan.

Iraq and Afghanistan wearing down the military, MPs warn, Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, 10 February 2010

Britain’s forces need a period of “effective recuperation” after operating at a rate well above official planning assumptions, a report by the Commons defence committee says today. “The MoD was unable to tell us how long it would take before the armed forces return to satisfactory levels of readiness”, it says.

The army has suffered particularly, working at “full stretch” with training exercises cancelled and the time between tours of duty cut. “Given the high tempo of operations over the last eight years it is not surprising that some senior army officers think there needs to be a bigger army.”

The MPs point out that the other armed services are also affected. The navy has seen essential equipment – such as the replacement for the Type 23 frigate – delayed and the report questions whether it can continue with its commitments around the world. The RAF has a shortage of aircraft for routine training because of the number of its fighter jets and helicopters committed on operations overseas.

The report warns that any cuts in an emergency “stringency budget” after the next election could make the strategic defence review (SDR), promised by all the main parties, undeliverable.

Closer military co-operation in Afghanistan under security agreement, Matthew Franklin, Australian, 31 March 2009

Australia and the United Kingdom will dramatically intensify co-operation on their military activities in Afghanistan under a new security agreement signed in London overnight. The new National Security Partnership will also lead to greater sharing of intelligence in the fight against terrorism as well as an increase in secondment of security and intelligence workers between the two countries.

Joint Statement with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, strengthening the strategic partnership between the United Kingdom and Australia, Media Release, Prime Minister of Australia, 30 March 2009

Q&A: UK troops in Afghanistan, BBC News.

Special report: Afghanistan, The Guardian.

Afghanistan warning decoded, Paul Wood, BBC News, 18 July 2007.

“The language of the report is careful, measured. But there is no mistaking the central message – things are going badly, alarmingly wrong in Afghanistan. With an accumulation of detail, the defence select committee paints a sorry picture – muddled strategy, shirking allies, a lack of helicopters and, stuck in the middle, the servicemen and women who have to make the whole thing work. Here then are the committee’s conclusions, decoded:

1. There are too few troops on the ground to win.
2. If we are not exactly losing, we are not winning either.
3. Too many Afghan civilians are being killed.
4. There are still not enough British helicopters to do the job.
5. Some of our Nato allies are leaving us in the lurch.
6. You can’t fight the Taleban and opium at the same time.
7. The Afghan security forces are a disappointment – some useless, some corrupt, some actually working against us.
8. So the exit strategy has problems, as in Iraq.
9. The media war isn’t going well, either.”

Britain’s war: evasion and reality, Paul Rogers, openDemocracy, 16 November 2006.

“The head of Britain’s security service shows more understanding of the political realities of the war on terror than the country’s prime minister.”

 See also:

 Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional research: Ronald Li
Updated: 16 March 2010