Articles and analysis

Bob Russell MP wrote 'Afghanistan: Europe has let down the UK' in February 2008.

The full text of his article can be accessed at:

http://www.ukdf.org.uk/viewpoints/RussellB-Feb2008.pdf
Colchester MP Bob Russell spent a week in Southern Afghanistan with members of Britain's armed forces, as part of his participation in the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme. Next month around 3,500 of his constituents, from 16 Air Assault Brigade based at the Colchester Garrison, will be deployed to Helmand Province. In his article, Bob Russell praises the achievements of UK forces in Afghanistan and discusses the conditions that British troops have to face in the country. He argues that other European nations need to contribute a great deal more to support the work of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Ken Gude first published 'American elections 2008: The foreign policy positions of the leading candidates for President' as an ippr Commission on National Security briefing in February 2008.

The briefing paper can be downloaded at:

http://www.ippr.org/publicationsandreports/publication.asp?id=585

The House of Commons Defence Select Committee published their fifth report of the session 2007/78, their response to the annual Ministry accounts, on 28 January 2008.Their report can be viewed online at:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmdfence/61/61.pdf

The Ministry of Defence annual report 20067, as submitted to the committee in November 2007, can be accessed at:
http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/CorporatePublications/AnnualReports/MODAnnualReports0607/ModAnnualReportAndAccounts200607.htm

The committee's report highlights concerns about many of the problems acknowledged in the Ministry of Defence's report, rehearsing a catalogue of already-known risks and shortcomings. What is more significant is not the shortcomings that the report highlights which are widely acknowledged but, rather, the number of areas where the select committee commits to 'monitor progress' or calls for more details on the steps being taken to mitigate problems experienced. They also anticipate cuts in defence spending and in the defence equipment budget through 2008 and warn the Ministry of Defence to be 'realistic' about the scale of equipment procurement that they can undertake in the future. They further call for the Ministry of Defence to announce a revised publication date for the revised Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS2).

In particular, they note:

Recruitment problems and the growth in the number of 'pinch points' in important specialisms and especially in the defence medical services. It cites 52 pinch points across all three services and 'critical shortages' in the Army Medical Service.The failure, once again, to meet harmony guidelines as a result of the high level of operational demands currently made on British troops.Anticipated delays on the type-45 destroyer programme and A400M programme.That demands upon troops are such that many are failing to achieve harmony guidelines and get proper breaks between operational duties.Cost overruns on the Astute-class submarine programme (1.22 bn so far) and on the type-45 destroyer programme (0.99 bn so far).

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