Defence Ministers visit British troops in Afghanistan
UK Ministry of Defence
KABUL, Afghanistan (Jan. 17, 2013) - Defence ministers have visited British troops in Afghanistan to witness first-hand the progress being made in mentoring Afghan forces to take on their own security challenges.
The Minister for the Armed Forces Andrew Robathan and Minister for Defence, Equipment Support and Technology Philip Dunne visited troops in Afghanistan this week.
During their visit, they also met with ISAF and Afghan military commanders, and Afghanistan’s Ministers for Defence and Interior in the capital Kabul, before seeing the site of the Afghan National Army Officers Academy, which currently under construction but will play a major role in the UK military’s post-2014 non-combat commitment to Afghanistan.
In Helmand, where the majority of British personnel are located, they held a meeting with Naeem Baloch, the Provincial Governor.
The comprehensive fact-finding mission saw the ministers briefed on the developing capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces, as well as on local governance and on future plans as ISAF forces prepare to finish their combat role by the end of 2014. Their busy programme saw them visit the major UK bases at Camp Bastion and Lashkar Gah, as well as a smaller base in Nahr-e Saraj district
They also spent time at Camp Shorabak, the headquarters of 3rd Kandak, 215 Brigade of the Afghan National Army. The Ministers met Afghan officers there alongside officers and troops from 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, who are stationed there in an advisory role.
The Ministers were met by Colonel Amin Jhan, the Afghan Brigade Executive Officer who expressed his appreciation of UK support and the sacrifices made.
Major James Christie, Chief of Staff for the Brigade Advisory Group (BAG) said, “This visit has highlighted the operational strength and ambition of 3/215 Brigade of the Afghan National Army as we progress towards an important stage of security transition.”
Minister for the Armed Forces Andrew Robathan said, “This is my fourth visit to Afghanistan and I have to say that the change is remarkable. We are here to help the Afghans to secure their own country and the transition is going extremely well.
“We are drawing down gradually and handing over to the Afghans. What I have seen is that they are better and better prepared to take over.” Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne added, “I was appointed to my new role in September so this is my first trip to Afghanistan. I’ve been extraordinarily impressed by both the scale of activity here and the quality of operations being conducted.”
The Minister saw mechanics in action as he visited both the Equipment Support Battalion and the Equipment Sustainability System (ESS) at Camp Bastion, where vehicles undergo ‘deep maintenance’ before being returned to operations.
Of these he said, “The ability of our own personnel and contractors to get vehicles back onto the ground – whether they have been disrupted on operations or require routine maintenance – is impressive.”
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(Cover Photo) L to R: Andrew Robathan MP (MIN AF), Colonel Amin Jhan, Brigade Executive Officer 3/215 Brigade, Afghan National Army and Philip Dunne MP (MIN DEST)
Ministers AF Andrew Robathan MP and DEST Phillip Dunne MP have a chance to talk to soldiers from The Royal Dragoon Guards and The 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment about issues facing them during Operation Herrick 17. The soldiers also had their chance to ask questions of the Ministers.