HC Deb 14 January 1997 vol 288 c225W
27. Mr. Peter Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the advantages of earmarking troops solely for peacekeeping tasks. [8997]

Mr. Soames

Requests for British personnel to participate in peacekeeping are considered case by case in the light of other commitments. Contributions to peacekeeping operations can potentially be drawn from any part of the armed forces, subject to availability. We believe that this approach is preferable to earmarking personnel or formations. The inherent uncertainty of where and how operations will arise makes it very difficult to determine in advance which capabilities will be required. This results in the risk of a mismatch between requirements and earmarked forces. The United Nation's standby force arrangements, which identify capabilities in a large number of member states, provide a more practical and flexible method of identifying forces.