Mary Macleod Visits Helmand Province

MP part of parliamentary group which met soldiers and Afghan people


Mary Macleod Mary with UK Commander, Brigadier Sanders DSO OBE and Brigadier General Sheren-Shah Kobadi (Afghan Army)

Mary Macleod at an Afghan village

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Brentford and Isleworth Constituency

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Local MP Mary Macleod praised the work of British servicemen and women in a surprise visit to Helmand Province, Afghanistan last weekend.

The Brentford and Isleworth MP also met with locals from an Afghan village to discuss the provision of education to girls and access to healthcare.

She praised as "outstanding" the work being done by the forces to create stability and spoke to personnel at Camp Bastion about the work they have been doing and the plans for leaving in 2014.

There had been progress delivering real change to local people in their daily lives, she commented. For example, under the Taliban there were 1,000 schools, and how there were 14,000 schools. Under the Taliban, girls were not allowed education and only eight per cent of the population had access to healthcare.

Now over three million girls were being educated and 60 per cent of the population had access to healthcare.

She was accompanied by several other cross-party MPs, who flew from RAF Brize Norton on a C17 plane Friday morning. The visit was part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme and the aim of the trip was to meet deployed soldiers, understand better the key capabilities of the campaign and to discuss the challenges leading to transition at the end of 2014. Whilst at Camp Bastion, the MPs had a range of briefings on strategy, equipment, reconstruction and the transition plan. They met locals in an Afghan village and spoke to British and US service men and women, from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF.

On her return, Mary spoke about how incredible the experience had been in getting exposure to the scale of the task involved and the excellent work that out armed forces are doing in creating security and peace in a difficult region.

Mary commented: “It was an amazing opportunity to meet with British forces in Afghanistan and see the outstanding work they are doing to create stability for the future. The process of transition will take some time but much work has already been done, working in collaboration with our allies, to build and train the Afghan Army. Attacks from the Taliban have already reduced by 80%.

“The campaign in Afghanistan is definitely heading in the right direction and we can achieve the right outcome there by the time that transition is complete. We can help, support and train those living in Afghanistan, to create a long lasting legacy that will deliver a future of peace, stability and growth.”

November 22, 2011