BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Audio/Video: Programmes: Breakfast with Frost
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Programmes 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
banner
Major General McColl
Major General McColl
DAVID FROST:
Now as we've been hearing a large deployment, or relatively large deployment of British troops is due to leave RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today for Afghanistan. The soldiers, which include members of the Parachute Regiment, will join the international peace keeping force in Afghanistan and Major General John McColl is the Commander of the British led force and he joins me now live from Kabul. Major General good morning.

MAJOR GENERAL MCCOLL:
Good morning.

DAVID FROST:
What, on the basis of what you've learnt, Major General, in the time you've been there, what will be the main advice you'll give your new men when they arrive?

MAJOR GENERAL MCCOLL:
I think the, the major bit of advice is to make sure they have a full understanding of the environment within which they're working. This is a Muslim society, there's nervousness about the presence of a foreign military force and it's important that the way in which we go about our business is sensitive to the requirements of that society. So far that's gone well and I'm keen that it does so in the future.

DAVID FROST:
And in terms of the relaxation of that tension and so on, do you still do sort of joint patrols with members of the Afghan forces?

MAJOR GENERAL MCCOLL:
Yes the, there was a certain nervousness about the presence of a foreign military force when we first arrived, but every day as we go about our business we see that nervousness relaxing, people have always been pleased to see us but that positive reaction is increasing.

DAVID FROST:
And would you say that taking the troops who are arriving and the ones who're there, is this what you would you call a dangerous assignment or not?

MAJOR GENERAL MCCOLL:
There is certainly danger attached to a mission such as this and that danger comes from the residual elements of Al Qaeda, Taliban, and indeed some elements of the population who are simply opposed to seeing the presence of a foreign military force on Afghan soil and we need to take this into account as we go about our business in a modus operandi, in our operational procedures and we do. But nevertheless despite the dangers there's no doubt about it that the overall, the overwhelming proportion of the population are extremely pleased to have us here.

DAVID FROST:
Obviously you're talking stabilisation, that's the great task, we read also, Major General, is it true that there has been something of a, a breakdown in law and order, we see figures of murders and robberies and so on, is there in the, in the changeover, has there been a breakdown in law and order as far as you can see?

MAJOR GENERAL MCCOLL:
Well they've just finished a very bloody war here and they're in the, they're in the process of establishing security and stability and my reading of the situation here in Kabul is that the interim administration are doing a very good job in taking arms from the streets of Kabul, compared to when we first arrived it's very rare now to see armed civilians on the streets, so that's going well. So undoubtedly there is a security problem here but it's one that I think the interim administration in conjunction with ISAF are, are dealing with as competently and as resolutely as one would expect.

DAVID FROST:
How many men, when the new arrivals arrived today, how many men will you have under your command and what will that number grow to?

MAJOR GENERAL MCCOLL:
As I stand here today we've got about 1,700, by the time that the troops arrive during the course of the day here we'll move up to about 1,900 to 2,000. By the time that the full force deploys which I think will be some time in mid-February I'm anticipating between 4,500 and 5,000. The reason that I can't be specific on dates is that we're at the end of a very long and tenuous air bridge here so dates and arrival times are always subject to amendment.

DAVID FROST:
And in terms of the figures, 4,500 to 5,000 in your judgement is that enough or is there a, an appetite for more?

MAJOR GENERAL MCCOLL:
No I think that's sufficient to do the job here in Kabul that I've been set.

DAVID FROST:
And in terms of the future, when we hand over the leadership after three months and so on, do we, do we withdraw some of our troops as well, it's a bit unclear in the papers here, or do they stay on?

MAJOR GENERAL MCCOLL:
The details of the, the UK commitment following our handing over as lead nation has yet to be confirmed and I think those negotiations are going on at the moment.

DAVID FROST:
But in general what you're saying this morning, Major General, is, is encouraging, as you say after what Afghanistan has been through in the way of war with the Soviets and war again, your message is really rather encouraging, is that right?

MAJOR GENERAL MCCOLL:
As every day goes by here, speaking to those who have been here in Kabul even longer than I have, as every day goes by the confidence of the people, the security environment, the pace of commercial traffic, all of that is on the increase so I think it's a very, a very positive environment and I'm, I'm very confident about the future of the mission.

DAVID FROST:
Major General thank you very much for joining us.

MAJOR GENERAL MCCOLL:
Thank you.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Breakfast with Frost stories