Management of Defence - Afghanistan (Operation Herrick) - m35 -Armed Forces


In mid 2012 the UK had approximately 9,500 personnel serving in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The security situation varies across the country with over 60% of violent incidents taking part in the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Kunar, areas where the population is about 11% of the country's 28 million people. The UK’s role is to assist the Afghan government to ensure security, governance, and development.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is mandated under Chapter VII of the United Nations (UN) Charter (Peace Enforcing) by a number of UN Security Resolutions. ISAF exists to help the Afghan people, not to govern them. Additionally, under the UN mandate, the role of ISAF is to assist in the maintenance of security to help the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the UN in those areas it is responsible for.

NATO assumed command and control of the ISAF mission on August 11, 2003.

During early 2012 there were approximately 132,000 troops in ISAF with contributions from 48 nations with national contingent strengths changing on a regular basis. Major contributors include:

  • United States 90,000

  • United Kingdom 9,500

  • Germany 4,800

  • Italy 3,900

  • France 3,600

  • Canada 556

  • Poland 2,500

  • Romania 1,800

  • Australia 1,500

  • Spain 1,500

ISAF is supported by approximately 170,000 personnel from the Afghan National Army (ANA) and about 126,000 personnel from the Afghan National Police (ANP).

UK Forces - Afghanistan Spring 2012 Roulement
As part of the Spring 2012 Roulement, 20 Armoured Brigade were replaced in Helmand by units under the command of HQ 12 Mechanised Brigade. Current force levels of around 9,500 troops will probably be maintained.

Major Army units involved in the Spring 2012 Roulement (Operation Herrick 16) include:

Kings Royal Hussars
Light Dragoons
1 Royal Tank Regiment
1 Grenadier Guards
1 Welsh Guards
3 Rifles
1 Royal Anglian
3 Yorks
1 Royal Welsh
19 Regiment Royal Artillery
26 Engineer Regiment
29 EOD Regiment
4 Close Support Battalion REME
UK Medical Group
Military Working Dogs

Afghanistan – Costs

“When the army marches the treasury empties”
Sun Tzu – The Art of War (around 500 BC)

The additional costs for operations in Afghanistan (excluding salaries and ongoing costs that would have happened anyway) are paid for by the Governments Contingency Reserve fund. The next table shows annual costs from 2001 which total to just over £14 billion.

Cost of Operations in Afghanistan 2002-2011
(in million of UK£)
2001-2002 221
2002-2003 311
2003-2004 46
2004-2005 67
2005-2006 199
2006-2007 738
2007-2008 1,504
2008-2009 2,623
2009-2010 4,187 Estimate
2010-2011 4,436 Forecast


Supplies are moved into Afghanistan via Pakistan and countries to the north. However, air supply is a vital ingredient in the support chain and the following table shows the pressure under which the Royal Air Force and civilian supply agencies operate:

RAF aircraft Civilian leased aircraft
Weight of supplies (in tonnes) Number of flights Weight of supplies (in tonnes) Number of flights
2008 6,709 538 8,817 266
2009 8,225 619 10,675 461
2010 6,971 533 9,568 443