“Our strategy has not changed and it will not change in response to these attacks.”
That is what the Foreign Secretary William Hague just told MPs in response to the recent attacks on NATO troops by the Afghan recruits they are training.
The “green on blue” attacks, as they are called in the military, killed six coalition soldiers in Afghanistan at the weekend including two British personnel from the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire regiment.
This morning the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, which runs the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan announced that it will be restricting operations with the Afghan National Army and Afghan Police.
From now, the operations will have to be authorised by senior commanders.
William Hague, was speaking to the on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.
Liberal Democrat Menzies Campbell put it to the Foreign Secretary that this was a change in strategy.
“No,” replied the Mr Hague.
“Well it’s a change in tactics then,” suggested Mr Campbell.
“Not even that” came the reply.
Change in practice? No.
But despite the many denials it is a change and appears to have taken the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond by surprise.
When he updated MPs in the House of Commons yesterday he said the UK military would continue to train the Afghan army and police telling the House: “We cannot and we will not allow the process to be derailed.”
But there are major concerns in the military about the strategy and it’s clear they have been shaken by the recent attacks.
But the Afghan training is the chosen route home for British forces, who are due to withdraw from their combat role by the end of 2014.
The Taliban knew they could disrupt that plan. And they seem to have succeeded in forcing a change, despite what the Foreign Secretary claims.