In the baking heat of Kabul, the British Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, touched-down this week to re-affirm Britain’s long-term commitment to the people of Afghanistan. During the visit, he visited the Afghan Presidential palace to meet
President Hamid Karzai, and also paid a surprise visit to UK troops in Helmand. Whilst there, he announced the move of the British Task Force Headquarters from its base in Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion.
During the meeting with President Karzai, Mr Hammond had the opportunity to discuss British commitments to Afghanistan post 2014. The British Defence Secretary also met with Afghan Defence Minister Bismellah Mohammadi where he discussed the progress of the security transition to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
In a first for the Defence Secretary, Mr Hammond had the opportunity to tour the site at Qargha, just outside Kabul, where the new Afghan Army Officers Academy (ANAOA) is being built. Based on the British Army model of Officer Training, the ANAOA is an important example of the UK’s ongoing commitment to Afghanistan beyond 2014, supported as it is by a team
of British mentors. The tour there was led by Brigadier General Sharifi the ANAOA Commandant and was followed by a further meeting with Major General Karim, the Commander of the Afghan National Defence University which is also located at the Qargha site.
The second day of the visit was based in Helmand Province. The headquarters of British forces operating in Afghanistan, Task Force Helmand, has been based in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, since 2006 but will move to the vast desert base of Camp Bastion later this summer.
Camp Bastion is located next to the Afghan National Army’s Camp Shorabak. The move, which comes as part of the redeployment of British forces, will allow the British and Afghan headquarters to work even more closely together. Mr Hammond completed his 2 day visit by meeting with British troops and senior military officials in a number of locations around Helmand province before returning to the United Kingdom.