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Army unloads equipment from Afghanistan at Marchwood Military Port
DEFENCE secretary Philip Hammond today said the UK will still be able to deploy to future foreign wars as scores of military vehicles used in Afghanistan were unloaded in a Hampshire port.
But Mr Hammond said despite the Government's current austerity drive most of the kit and vehicles streaming off a ro/ro vessel this morning would be kept.
He said: “The important thing is that we will be able to mount an operation on this scale again, should we need to in the future.
“The essence of defence is being prepared for all eventualities, so while I can't see the need in the immediate future to be doing anything like this again, but we certainly can't say never.
“The inventory of kit in Afghanistan has changed over time so vehicles that we sent out in the beginning of the campaign, in many cases have already come back and being replaced with many of the vehicles we have seen coming off here.
“What we have done is very carefully look at a fleet of vehicles and only those which we will need for the future force of 2020 the new design of the army of the future and that can be brought back economically.
“The only stuff we will not be bringing back is stuff that is so badly damaged or is obsolete and unserviceable, in which case it will be destroyed in theatre.
“It would cost us more to bring it back than it would be worth here."
Britain's combat role will end by December 2014 and most of its equipment will be back by then, Mr Hammond added.
The British armoured vehicles were either flown from Camp Bastion or driven overland through Pakistan before being loaded on to the giant ferry at a secret location.
The ferry spent more than four weeks at sea, navigating through the Gulf of Oman, along the coast of Yemen, across the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal, before sailing through the Mediterranean, past Gibraltar and finally heading for UK shores.
So far more than 1,080 vehicles and pieces of major equipment have been redeployed to the UK, alongside 1,570 containers of materiel from Afghanistan.
Under current plans around 3,345 vehicles or items of equipment and around 5,500 containers of materiel will be returned by the conclusion of the British combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, the MoD said.
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