As somebody who served in Afghanistan on Op Herrick 9 during the Autumn & Winter of 2008-09, the Recall of Parliament this week was particularly poignant for me. As well as debating the situation in Afghanistan we also honoured the 457 of our service men and women, who made the ultimate sacrifice, and the more than 600 who continue to live with life changing injuries.
I would also like to commend the work done here in our area by MOD DE&S, based at Abbey Wood. Throughout the operations in Afghanistan, they provided the equipment and logistic support to our forces there, as they continue to do for our forces around the world today.
To those who say that the operation wasn't worth it or has not been a success let us call to mind the original objective, which was to destroy Al-Qaeda on the ground, deprive it of a base from which to mount terrorist attacks across the world, defeat the Taliban and to keep our own streets safe. This was achieved. Our people, the Americans, our allies, and the Afghan army and police force achieved those objectives with honour and courage.
Like most of my fellow MPs, I feel ashamed, angry and devastated by what I have seen happening in Afghanistan in recent days and weeks. I cannot help but keep remembering the ordinary people of Afghanistan and the locally employed civilians who not only risked their lives but, by helping NATO forces, risked the lives of their families, friends and villages to Taliban reprisals. I was delighted and relieved beyond measure when the Prime Minister announced the resettlement and evacuation programme for refugees, which is a fantastic thing.
The speed of the Taliban advance surprised everyone, and in fairness I think the government acted as swiftly as it could. The Secretary of State for defence deployed troops as quickly as possible to help with the evacuation. The Prime Minister has been working with our NATO Allies and the G7.
The UK has a great deal of hard-earned experience in the region. We should ensure that, along with our NATO Allies, from Operation Resolute Support, we play a role in assisting those states who may feel the need for support if the regional security situation deteriorates. Following on from the Integrated Review, maybe the forward deployment policy referenced by the Government, can be applied to this region.
Western Allies – working through NATO must strive together to ensure that the security we’ve enjoyed whilst terrorists were denied a safe haven in Afghanistan, continues. Al Qaeda will be looking to exploit areas of instability – so we must ensure that interference by neighbouring states does not allow Afghanistan to return to the situation it was in prior to the beginning of coalition operations there.
In November 2006, the then prime minister Tony Blair, speaking on a visit to Afghanistan, said:
“Here, in this extraordinary piece of desert, is where the fate of world security in the early 21st century, is going to be decided.”
So we cannot abandon the Afghan people and allow their country to once again become a base for international terrorism.
Jack and his team are currently working hard to secure the evacuation of eligible people from Afghanistan. If you know of anyone in need of assistance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01454 617783.