What lessons have been learned from Afghanistan? Norfolk MP wants to know

Keith Simpson, MP. Picture: Denise Bradley

Keith Simpson, MP. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

Families and armed forces wondering if an intervention in Afghanistan was worth it will want to know what lessons have been learned from the conflict, Norfolk MP Keith Simpson has said.

The military historian and Broadland MP has called a debate in parliament next week on lessons from the war in Afghanistan.

It comes after an influential committee of MPs said the UK should be prepared to step up its involvement in air strikes against Islamic State (IS) terrorists, but military leaders have so far failed to set out a 'clear and articulate' plan for the British mission in Iraq.

The Defence Select Committee said the RAF was making a 'relatively minor commitment' to coalition air strikes, with eight Tornadoes 'of which it seems only two are flying at a time'.

It suggested stepping up air support for ground operations by Iraqi and Kurdish troops once it was ready to launch major offensives, and the UK should provide extra training –including in dealing with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – and help in reforming the Iraqi military.

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Mr Simpson said: 'The public are only too well aware of the Chilcot Inquiry looking into the origins of intervention in Iraq and lessons to be learned, but at the same time we were doing the same thing in Afghanistan. There seems to be no collective investigation into what lessons we have learned from our interventions in Afghanistan. This affects both political direction, co-ordination between the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office and the Department for International and Foreign Development.'

He said: 'I think that a lot of families will be looking back and thinking 'well, was it worth it?'. Luckily maybe their loved ones came home, perhaps they knew people who were killed or injured. There is no real public discussion on this. It is leaked out in bits and pieces. The government will argue there is a strategic defence review in the autumn, but I would like a heads-up on this before the general election.'

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Have we reflected enough on the Afghanistan conflict? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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