MP visits front line on fact-finding mission

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A PORTSMOUTH MP has been on a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan.

Penny Mordaunt travelled out to the front line last week as part of her role on the House of Commons Defence Select Committee.

She spent time in Camp Bastion in Helmand talking to troops, and travelled to the capital Kabul to meet Afghan leader President Karzai. She also visited a forward operating base right out on the front line in the fight against the Taliban.

She said: ‘The feeling on the front line is very positive and I was very encouraged by the considerable progress that has been made in training Afghan troops and police.

‘Our forces are doing an amazing job, on an industrial scale.’

The Conservative MP for Portsmouth North was one of 12 parliamentarians visiting the country.

During the course of their visit, they met troops from the Counter-IED Task Force, received a briefing from Commander Task Force Helmand, Brigadier James Chiswell, on the overall progress of the campaign, and met Helmand provincial governor Gulab Mangal.

They also chatted to several troops from all walks of military life, mixing with them at mealtimes in the mess.

The MPs will use their experiences in Afghanistan to report back to parliament on the war, which began in 2001.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘There are a number of issues I picked up, including the fact that those searching for IEDs receive no supplement to their pay whereas those disposing of them do, and will raise this with the Secretary of State.’

Brigadier Chiswell said: ‘It was a pleasure to welcome members of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee to Helmand and to have the opportunity to demonstrate to them the progress we are making, particularly in relation to our training and mentoring of the Afghan security forces.

‘I hope they found their visit valuable and that it has succeeded in informing them in their future work.’

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock, who is also a member of the Defence Select Committee, was unable to go on the trip due to other political commitments, he said.