The final deployment of British combat troops to Afghanistan will take place in June this year, the Defence Secretary has announced.
In a written ministerial statement, Philip Hammond said it will be the final phase of Operation Herrick – the UK’s operation in Afghanistan – with the drawdown of combat troops due to be complete by the end of the year. The announcement comes as Task Force Helmand, the UK’s military headquarters in Afghanistan, was disbanded this week in the latest major step in the drawdown of British troops.
The British-led coalition task force’s functions will now be absorbed into the wider US-led Regional Command (South West).
Announcing the final deployment of British troops to Afghanistan, Mr Hammond said around half of the units will come under the command of Brigadier Robert Thomas, who becomes the senior British officer in the province, serving as deputy commander Regional Command (South West).
The remainder will deploy elsewhere within Camp Bastion and in Kandahar and Kabul as part of the UK’s overall contribution.
The number of British personnel in Helmand has reduced from a peak of more than 10,000 to just under half that number as Afghan National Security Forces have taken the lead in security across Afghanistan.
Units deploying will include The Queen’s Royal Hussars (The Queen’s Own and Royal Irish); Royal Artillery regiments; Royal Engineers; Signal Regiments; The Royal Logistic Corps; Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers; Royal Military Police as well as Royal Air Force squadrons.
Mr Hammond said this will be the final phase of the mission as UK Armed Forces end combat operations by December 31.