09.00 TO 18.00


A Conference Sponsored and Executed by Westminster Centre for Research and Strategy

Westminster Centre for Research and Strategy (WCRS) conducted its ground-breaking Conference on “Role of Britain in Afghan War” at the University of Westminster, London. For the first time a prestigious and big panel of highly decorated and experienced professionals was brought together by WCRS:

Lieutenant General (R) Jim Dutton

Air Vice Marshal (R) Sean Bell

Lieutenant Colonel Arnel David

Group Captain (R) Afzal Ashraf

Imam Asim Hafiz OBE

The Conference was hosted by Aliza Ayaz who is the President of University College London (UCL) Climate Action Society. Mohammad Touseef FRSA FTIC GGA, Deputy DG of Westminster Centre for Research and Strategy (WCRS) moderated the Conference and introduced the distinguished speakers and the topic.

Conference was attended by distinguished guests, military personnel from UK, USA and many other countries, Ambassadors, journalists, media personnel, local community representatives, politicians, students of international relations and security and many others.

In 2001, the Taliban gave haven to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which allowed terrorists to plan and carry out attacks around the world. British Military joined many other nations in a NATO/ISAF-led military intervention to bring Al-Qaeda’s leaders to justice, remove the Taliban from control in Afghanistan and prevent the country again becoming a haven for international terrorists.

The international military campaign has reduced the terrorist threat from this region and helped train a 350,000 strong Afghan National Security Force, which now has security responsibility for Afghanistan’s 30 million citizens.

Our 1st Speaker, Lieutenant General (R) Jim Dutton is a highly decorated retired Royal Marines Officer who has led ISAF in Afghanistan as a Deputy Commandant. General Dutton is also a former Governor of Gibraltar. He has held many senior positions including Director of NATO Policy at Ministry of Defence, British liaison to the Pentagon shortly after the attacks of 9/11. In 2003, General Dutton commanded a brigade into the Iraq war and thus became the first British Military Officer to have led American forces after World War II. As a General, he served as Commandant General of Royal Marines and a dual appointment with Commander UK Amphibious Forces.  

Our 3rd Speaker, Lieutenant Colonel Arnel David is a Civil Affairs officer and Army Strategist still serving on active duty. He has served multiple tours of duty in both conventional and special operations units where he deployed to the Middle East, Central Asia, and Pacific. He is currently the Chief of Staff for the Army Future Studies Group and recently deployed as the Commander’s Initiative Group Chief for Special Operations Joint Task Force – Afghanistan. Currently Col David is deputed in United Kingdom as a Special Assistant to the Chief of General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton – Smith. He is a distinguished military graduate from Valley Forge Military College

Our 5th Speaker, Afzal Ashraf is a Consultant Fellow at RUSI, following a diverse career spanning defence, national security, diplomacy, rule of law and delivery of training and education. After a start in combat aircraft research and development in UK industry, he was commissioned as an Engineer officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF), retiring three decades later as a Group Captain. His tours of duty included counterinsurgency and policing focussed operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and a position in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he was responsible for political and military policy as well as security sector reform in Iraq.

The international military campaign has reduced the terrorist threat from this region and helped train a 350,000 strong Afghan National Security Force, which now has security responsibility for Afghanistan’s 30 million citizens.

The process of handing over security to Afghan forces – ‘transition’ – saw the international military’s role change from leading combat operations to training, advising and assisting. This marked a significant milestone for Afghanistan and its people. It has also enabled UK troop numbers to reduce and combat operations to decrease. 

Currently there are nearly 1,000 UK troops deployed in Afghanistan. Development and diplomatic activities have also improved the lives of Afghan people and helped deliver basic needs, such as access to health, education and the opportunity to vote. The UK and international partners have committed significant resources in Afghanistan to help rebuild and stabilise the country. 

Since the drawdown of force elements, British troops are now stationed in Kabul where they take the lead within the Kabul Security Force, a 7-nation organisation which provides vital force protection for UK and coalition advisors who are working with our Afghan partners to increase the capabilities and capacity across the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. Alongside military activities, the UK has supported a wide range of projects to improve education, healthcare, economic growth and local governance, in Helmand and across the country.

Our 2nd Speaker, Air Vice Marshal (R) Sean Bell is a highly decorated retired Royal Air Force Officer who has led Air Security in Afghanistan as a Commandant of Air Operations. He has completed three tours in Afghanistan concluding with just under a year in Kabul to serve the International Stabilisation and Assistance Force (ISAF) with responsibility for Air Ops over Afghanistan. His last appointment was Director General Saudi Armed forces Projects. He commanded 1 (Fighter) Squadron from 1999-2001, and the Harrier Force from 2005 to 2007, and completed staff tours in Canada and many others.

Our 4th Speaker, Imam Asim Hafiz OBE is the Islamic Religious Adviser to the Chief of the Defence Staff at the UK Ministry of Defence, and the first Muslim chaplain to the British armed forces. In 2012, he spent eight months in Afghanistan as part of UK/International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) efforts to increase religious understanding to promote peace and stability. He founded the Armed Forces Muslim Association, a service personnel support network, and the Armed Forces Muslim Forum to improve mutual understanding between British Muslim communities and their armed forces. He was awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to Defence.

“Afghanistan has been at a war for the last 40-50 years. Most Afghans don’t even remember a time before war. The Soviets tried to do a lot of things right but at the end killed millions of Afghans and lost the war. I met with General Mc Chrystal last year in London and he said that Touseef Afghanistan is confusing, so confusing that even Afghans can’t understand it. War corrodes and kills everything it touches. It destroys what’s inside you. War makes you sad. But, sometimes war becomes inevitable.”


In this prestigious conference, our esteemed speakers contributed in the discussion on Britain’s role in the Afghan war and how the UK’s involvement has helped to create the opportunity for a more secure, stable and increasingly self-sufficient future for Afghanistan. The cost has been high, but UK’s national security has been strengthened by enabling the Afghans to take control of theirs.

The conference fulfilled the following objectives;

  • Highlighted the role played by British Military and nation in the Afghanistan Campaign, war against terror and rebuilding process in Afghanistan;
  • Highlighted the key strengths and weaknesses of the Afghan campaign;
  • Highlighted the military strategy of UK and other allied nations in the Afghan War;
  • Honoured the sacrifices of fallen soldiers in the Afghan Campaign;
  • Commented on the future of Afghan Campaign;




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