Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Afghanistan statement

On 19 December 2012, Defence Minister Lord Astor of Hever repeated the government's quarterly statement on the situation in Afghanistan.

The statement was made earlier in the Commons by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

Mr Hammond told MPs the British military presence in Afghanistan will be almost halved by the end of 2013.

He said the number of UK troops would be cut to about 5,200, paving the way for the withdrawal of most of the forces from the country by the end of 2014.

Numbers are already being cut from 9,500 to 9,000 before Christmas.

The defence secretary said the move was possible because of the "real progress" being made in Helmand.

He said: "Progress is clear and measurable and our determination to complete our mission and help Afghanistan secure its future remains undiminished."

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy welcomed the government's announcement.

He asked for details on which units will leave and from which parts of Helmand, and sought assurances that those returning would be exempt from "any tranche of future compulsory redundancies".

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