Decision on Troop Pullout after BSA: UK
LASHKARGAH (PAN): British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on Monday said his country would decide on pulling out troops from Helmand province with after the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Kabul and Washington. Hammond expressed the views at a meeting with Governor Gen. Mohammad Naeem at a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) office in Lashkargah, the Helmand capital
His visit was aimed at meetings with provincial officials on the security situation and progress in other areas, the secretary said, promising that British forces would stay in Helmand till the signing of the security pact. UK troops would help the Afghan security forces during the electoral process, he assured. The local security personnel’s efficiency had improved and so had the situation in Helmand, he noted.
Pledging continued support for Afghanistan, Hammond said his country would decide on how many forces should be kept after withdrawal of foreign combat soldiers from the war-torn country. Governor Mohammad Naeem acknowledged cooperation from Britain helped Afghanistan considerably over the past decade. British Ambassador Sir Richard Stagg also visited Helmand today, reaffirming continued support, the governor added.
The governor said the ambassador had reconstruction of the flood-ruined road linking Sangin and Kajaki districts of the province. Within the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) framework, Britain has about 9,500 soldiers in Afghanistan. Most of them are based in Helmand.
Following his arrival in Afghanistan last night, Hammond joined service personnel on operations for a remembrance service at Camp Bastion. He laid a wreath at Bastion’s memorial to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan since 2001.
The secretary said: “We are not just remembering the millions of people who gave their lives in the two world wars but all those who have since died in the service of our country…” He also, for the first time, met with General Sayed Malook who recently took over as commanding officer of the Afghan National Army’s 3/215 Brigade. (PAN)