“Brigadier Butler told the committee that in 2006 the Treasury had “capped” resources available for the operation, limiting funding to £1.3 billion for a “three-year campaign”. The Government has always denied imposing a cap on resources for the mission. “There was a Treasury-imposed cap on the number of troops we could have in Afghanistan,” he said.
With the troops available to him — 3,300 — “we could just about hold the line but we couldn’t sustain a higher tempo”. Brigadier Butler said he was visited by numerous ministers during his tour of command but not once by a Treasury minister.
He said that the Taleban “forced us off the road” when they turned to “asymmetric warfare”, targeting the troops with roadside bombs. But there were not enough helicopters to move soldiers around Helmand province.” We can argue about whether deploying troops to Afghanistan is wise or not, personally I think it is. But once the decision to send them into theatre has been taken it is a moral and strategic imperative that they are given the tools they need to finish the job.
To come back to the story of the day, if the Tories are to make one commitment to increase spending it should be on defence. During the Labour years, the forces have been fighting wars on peacetime budgets. That is simply not sustainable.