NATO scales back Afghan patrols

Joint patrols between NATO soldiers and Afghan forces are to be cut back. The move follows a string of deadly attacks where Afghanis have turned their weapons on their allies. The government insists there is no change in Government policy.

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NATO decision 'sensible and temporary'

Professor Michael Clarke form the Royal United Services Institute told ITV News the decision to suspend joint patrols between NATO soldiers and Afghan forces is a temporary measure to protect troops due to present inflamed tensions across the Middle East caused by the recent anti-Islam film.

Professor Clarke said there was a risk that the move would send a message to Afghans the Coalition may be 'wobbling' under the pressure, but he did not think this will turn out to be true.

Labour MP: Our brave soldier lions are being led by ministerial donkeys

Labour MP Paul Flynn suspended from the House of Commons for five days after he accused ministers from the Ministry of Defence of lying. Mr Flynn said:

"The role of our brave soldiers at the moment is to act as human shields for ministers' reputation. The danger to our soldiers is being prolonged by those on that (front) bench who have the power to stop it.

Isn't this very similar to the end of the First World War, when it was said that politicians lied and soldiers died and the reality was, as it is now, that our brave soldier lions are being led by ministerial donkeys?"

Paul Flynn MP in the House of Commons today, before he was suspended. Credit: ITV News

Defence Secretary: Labour MP comments 'scandalous'

Labour MP Paul Flynn was suspended from the House of Commons today after accusing the Ministry of Defence ministerial team of lying over Afghanistan policy and then refusing to withdraw the remark.

Speaker John Bercow demanded the Newport West MP retract his statement but Mr Flynn refused, insisting it was more important for him to leave it on the record.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said Mr Flynn's comments "were scandalous".

Afghan MoD: NATO decision 'neither helps or worries us'

General Mohammad Zahir Azmi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence has told ITV News that NATO's announcement over scaling back on links with Afghan forces is not "something that helps us but nor is it something that worries us".

Mr Azmi said that the Afghan Army conducts their own independent operations without NATO, adding that some of the training and classwork on the ground will continue.

He also said that if their forces needed the partnership, that they can still get permission from regional commanders.

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Hammond: UK operations in Afghanistan 'unchanged'

British military operations in Afghanistan will continue "substantially unchanged", after an order changing the way international troops train and mentor home-grown security forces, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told MPs today.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond speaks in the House of Commons. Credit: PA Wire

Mr Hammond said: "That means that the UK partnering and mentoring operations will continue substantially unchanged by this order.

"We have a strategic plan that takes us to the end of combat operations in 2014, while strengthening the ANSF to take over security responsibility from us. I have every confidence in the way COMISAF (the commander of ISAF) is executing that plan."

No 10: NATO move 'no significant impact on UK forces'

Ministers discussed the situation in Afghanistan, as well as the recent spate of attacks on embassies of Western countries across the Arab world, at this morning's weekly meeting of Cabinet in 10 Downing Street. Following the Cabinet meeting, Mr Cameron's official spokesman told reporters:

As you would expect, we take very seriously the safety of our armed forces.

Commanders on the ground have clearly judged the need at the present time to tighten up procedures, but this will not have any significant impact on the role of our forces and their operations on the ground.

Conservative MP: 'UK's mission in Afghanistan is confused'

Conservative MP John Baron has responded to NATO's announcement today, during an urgent question over the situation regarding Afghanistan, saying that it "threatens to blow a hole in our stated exit strategy".

Mr Baron said the UK's strategy is "heavily reliant" on joint operations continuing until Afghan forces are able to adequately maintain a handover:

I think this announcement adds to the uncertainty as to whether Afghan forces will have the ability to keep an undefeated Taliban at bay once NATO forces have left. This goes to what the heart our mission is in Afghanistan.

There has been confusion from the start. The mission has become about nation-building, human rights and democracy. It is very different to our original mission.

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