Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the massive logistical operation that is the withdrawal of British combat troops from Afghanistan is very much underway, but is complicated somewhat by the ongoing live insurgency. He said:
"We have to do all this while there is still a live insurgency on the ground, and we are very mindful of the fact that the enemy has vote on all this process, it is no good us planning how we are going to do without having regard to the possibility of enemy action.
As part of our enduring commitment to Afghanistan, we will continue to support the development of Afghan forces through mentoring and training at the Afghan National Army Officer’s Academy near Kabul. That is in addition to our £70 million commitment to the international fund to sustain the Afghan security forces after 2014.
The UK is dedicated to helping the Afghan Government make progress towards a sustainable political settlement and a stable regional environment, and to help the Afghan people build a viable Afghan state.
We will continue to support governance and development in Afghanistan through the next decade—with £178 million per year of development aid agreed until 2017—to ensure that the progress made will not be lost.
The Defence Secretary has said he welcomes a report by MPs about the future of Afghanistan after British forces leave which he said shares the government's "vision".
Philip Hammond said: "I welcome the publication of this Report, which shares our vision of an Afghanistan that can maintain its own security and never again be a safe haven for international terrorism.
"The fact that Afghan security forces are now leading on more than 80 per cent of all security operations across the country, shows we are well on the way to achieving that aim".
A report by MPs on the planned British withdrawal from Afghanistan next year has outlined the following as priorities that need to be addressed among others:
An Afghan-led peace deal with the Taliban is vital to ensure the country is stable and secure.
Open and free elections
All Afghan people, including women, must be involved in the peace process.
Afghan forces should be given a chance to test themselves in more challenging circumstances.
Continued development aid.
A contingency plan to deal with a breakdown in security as UK troops pull-out.
The committee also stressed the importance of a "comprehensive and detailed lessons-learned process" to help frame future foreign policy and a "major review of what the UK has achieved and not achieved in Afghanistan in the period 2001 to 2014".
In a report published today on the future and stability of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of British troops in 2014, the Defence Select Committee said:
We hope that Afghanistan can become a secure, prosperous and flourishing country but we are concerned that Afghanistan could descend into civil war within a few years.
Engaging with the Taliban in the peace process will clearly be necessary. In response to this report, the Government should spell out what steps it intends to take to at least hold on to the progress made so far.