Thursday 27 January 2011

UK Defence Ctte publishes transcript of Afghan evidence

The UK House of Commons Select Committee on Defence has published a transcript of oral evidence given to the committee in hearings on 15 December last year as part of its inquiry into operations in Afghanistan.
Giving evidence to the committee were Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox, Chief of Joint Operations Air Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, and Peter Watkins, director of Operational Policy at the Ministry of Defence.
Some interesting tidbits in the evidence:
"Chair: How much is a judge paid in Afghanistan?
Peter Watkins: I’m afraid I don’t know that.
Chair: Am I right in thinking that it is, or at least was a year ago, half the amount that is paid to a private soldier?
Peter Watkins: The Committee has asked this before and we have been trying to find out the answer. There does not seem to be an available figure. It seems to vary considerably, depending on the rank of the judge, obviously, and the location."
"Dr Fox: It’s worth pointing out that just over 50% of all the violence in Afghanistan is in just nine of the country’s 401 districts, four of which are in Helmand and four of which are in Kandahar. That gives us an idea of the dynamic within which we are operating."
"Dr Fox: I have studiously avoided questions on WikiLeaks disclosures. First, they are fragments and incompletely disclosed. They are designed to damage the United States in the eyes of the outside world, and drive a wedge between the United States and its allies. We should have no part in playing the WikiLeaks game. It is trying to set a particular agenda and put particular ideas into the public mind and the wider public discourse. I think that it is extremely regrettable that some organs of the British media have played along with it. I find the whole concept of WikiLeaks and its activities completely loathsome."
Nine members of the committee have just returned from a four-day visit to Afghanistan as part of its current inquiry. The final report is due to be published later this year.

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