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UK politics

Three have been three new Chiefs of Staff appointed at the MoD today.

NEW CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF: AIR MARSHAL S G G DALTON CB BSc FRAeS FCMI RAF

Air Marshal Stephen Dalton joined the RAF after graduating with a 2.1 honours degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Bath University. Subsequently, whilst based in the UK and Germany, he flew the Jaguar on 3 tours in the tactical reconnaissance and ground attack roles. During these tours he flew on exercises in Europe (Norway, Italy, France and Spain), the USA and Canada. On completion of the Advanced Staff Course, Air Marshal Dalton commanded No 13 Squadron flying the Tornado GR1A, during which he was deployed on Operation JURAL flying reconnaissance missions over Iraq; for part of the period he was the Commander British Forces JURAL for Op SOUTHERN WATCH in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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By Paula Jaegar, Research Associate, U K Defence Forum

Why are so few women in the House of Commons actively interested in defence ?

And what difference would it make - to UK defence policy, the Armed Forces, and to their political careers - if they were?

According to Vacher Dod's parliamentary profiles, nine out of 125 female MPs - just over 7% - named defence as a political interest.

Of their 534 male counterparts, 94 (just over 17.5%) did.

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One of the first debates when the UK Parliament returned to work this week was a debate on Defence in the Uk - an annual event. A full report can be found HERE

 

The news that two new UK Defence Ministers are to be unpaid has sent waves of disbelief around the defence establishment.

Quentin Davies MP, the new Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, "crossed the floor" to leave the Conservatives for Labour. He's the first minister for defence procurement to sit in the House of Commons since Labour first won the 1997 General Election. His former colleagues will no doubt have the greatest of sport at his expense, not least for being a "gentleman" rather than a "player". (For our global readers, many years ago unpaid cricketers were known as "gentlemen" while the paid professional were "players")

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It's a good day for the Gurkhas who fought for the British Army, who have won their battle to stay in the UK.

In the test case at the High Court, the six men's lawyers argued that the UK owed them a 'special debt' in gratitude for their service in nearly every conflict in British history.
The ruling means that the 2,000 Gurkhas who were denied the right to live in the UK can now apply for residency.

The Government had argued that the Gurkhas lacked "strong ties" with Britain but their lawyer Edward Fitzgerald, QC, said their "long and dedicated service links them inextricably to the people of this country''.

Almost 50,000 of the Nepalese soldiers died during their service for Britain in Malaya, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan, service for which they were awarded won 13 Victoria Crosses for bravery.

Martin Howe, the mens' solicitor, said: "The veteran Gurkhas I represent, with typical humility and strength of character, give theirheartfelt thanks to each and every person: from public life; the media; and the ranks of ordinary decent people who stood by them in their hour of need as indeed the Gurkhas stood by us, in our darkest hours of need.

"The veteran Gurkhas warmly paraphrase to the people of Britain the kind words written of them: 'Never had we more faithful friends than you'."

 

The voice of Britain's big defence companies, the Defence Industries Council today released public opinion polling data showing that both the UK Armed Forces and the British defence industry that provides them with their equipment are both highly regarded by the public.

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This is a subject Defence Viewpoints would like to follow, and we have invited Conservative researchers to contribute their thoughts.

In the mean time, and with the usual strictures about sources, the Guardian newspaper online is creating an updateable document on what is known about Conservative policy pronouncements. Without being perjorative, it's a little thin so far!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/sep/10/conservatives.foreign.policy

 

Three Islamic extremists - or common criminals as we prefer to call them - have been found guilty of conspiring to kill people in a terrorist bombing campaign. They were members of an al Qaida-inspired terror cell, a jury at Woolwich Crown Court found. Abdulla Ahmad Ali,27, Assad Sarwar 28, and Tanvir Hussain, 27, also admitted plotting a series of small-scale bomb attacks which dominated the news two years ago.

Despite the convictions, counter terrorism officials are said to be dismayed at the outcome where one has escaped all convictions and none have been charged with targeting an aircraft. Prosecutors have till the end of the month to consider a retrial.

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Viewpoints sends its support to Corporal Tomos Stringer who had to spend a night sleeping in his car after been turned down for a room at a hotel because he was military personnel.

The MoD is now demanding an explanation to why Corp. Stringer was denied a room at the Metro hotel, Surrey. One Sunday night in June this year he attempted to book a room at the hotel and after showing his military ID he was informed that military staff were 'not welcome.'

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Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox has this morning announced the strategy for reforming the Ministry of Defence which will include the formation of the Defence Reform Unit that will lead in the reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence into three 'strategic pillars'.

Speaking to an audience at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Westminster, Dr Fox announced that he is launching a full review of how the Ministry of Defence is run and how the Armed Forces can be reformed to "produce more efficient provision of defence capability, and generation and sustainment of operations".

In his speech Dr Fox began by describing the background to the changes, highlighting the fact that the country faces a legacy of debt - the interest on which for the next year alone will exceed the budget of the Ministry of Defence.

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Gy Great North News staff reporter

It seems the MoD still wants to play its cards close to its chest over the development of RAF St Athan. Witness the following, taken from a recent FOI request for the Minutes of Board meetings on the matter,

"The last Programme Executive Board (PEB) Minutes (dated 16 June 2008) contain some sensitive Programme information which could undermine the confidentiality of the MOD's position in advance of continuing negotiations with the Metrix Consortium. Such information is of a restricted nature and underpins our negotiating position, disclosure of which could hinder the MOD's ability to achieve value for money. It is not in the public interest to have this position eroded and therefore these Minutes will not be published. The Minutes will be withheld under section 43 (Commercial Interests) of the FOI Act."

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While UK MP Kevan Jones rails about entertainment carried out by senior UK army personnel with the help of enlisted staff, in the US the scandal is money diverted from the Global War on Terrorism by the U S Air Force to leather bound home away from home "comfort capsules" to be installed in transport aircraft. Read the Washington Post story at

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/17/AR2008071703161.html?referrer=emaila

 

By Dr Jeffrey Bradford

Today saw the release of The Ministry of Defence (MoD) Defence Plan including the Government's expenditure plan for 2008-2012 (Cm 7385). The document reflects the outcome of the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review where all Government departments make their bid for resources based on needs and performance. A senior group of Ministers arbitrate over these competing demands to determine ultimately who gets what. For the Ministry of Defence, there are a number of interesting nuances in the Defence Plan which illustrate the evolving defence priorities of the Brown adminstration:

Defence Policy (Pages 18-19)
* The Defence Plan suggests a much greater focus on Africa, no reference to America's Global War on Terror (GWOT) and in terms of current commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan "Support work to deliver a downtrend in the number of conflicts globally"

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By a special correspondent

The military covenant was a very new phenomenon, the Defence Select Committee were told today.

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29th July – 2nd August 2007

1. We note that Taiwan consciousness and sense of identity is considered to be continuing to rise, and there is a strongly held view that this trend will not change. Substantial numbers of Taiwanese are working (de facto settled) elsewhere in South East Asia, and Taiwanese are said to be significant achievers in some Chinese cities.

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Parliament

House of Commons - Monday: Public Accounts Committee, Type 45 destroyer, Sir Bill Jeffrey; Tuesday: Defence Select Committee, Russia: A new confrontation?; Wednesday: Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Global security: Afghanistan; Thursday: debate, arms export controls

House of Lords - Wednesday: oral questions, export of arms to Israel, Lord Hylton; Thursday: debate, nuclear proliferation, Baroness Williams of Crosby, Lord Malloch-Brown

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As published in The Times - April 18th 2009

Parliament
House of Commons - Monday: Debate on defence procurement
House of Lords - Monday: Civilian staff in conflict prevention and peacekeeping operations, Lord Hannay of Chiswick

Talks and lectures
Growing Remembrance - Hinton Ampner, Hampshire, Thursday
Heroic Hearts: The British Army's Victory in Afghanistan 1880 - National Army Museum, London SW3, Thursday
Afghanistan — In Their Words Royal Marines talk of their experiences - The Royal Marines Museum, Southsea, Hampshire,

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By Ian Godden, SBAC Chief Executive

The Society of British Aerospace Companies has warned the UK Government that the decline in research and technology (R&T) funding for defence will harm both the armed forces' ability to carry out their roles in future and will be a signal to the industry of the Government's declining commitment to maintaining high-skilled research in this country. The MoD's R&T budget has gone down by 7 per cent this year. It stood at Ł540m in 2007/8 and Ł502m in 2008/9.

Government and industry both invest heavily in R&T for equipment to ensure the armed forces have the right equipment for the future. This funding also provides the platform on which Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) and urgent

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The hard pressed UK MoD has made gifts to the US Armed Forces. They include four permanent protected structures currently used as UK dining facilities located within the Contingency Operating Base (COB), Basra. The COB has been occupied by the UK Armed Forces since May 2003 as part of Operation TELIC. The UK's planned transition within Iraq will see our Armed Forces, during the early part of 2009, hand over responsibility for the military operation within Multi-National Division (South East) to the US. In order to enable the transition the UK Armed Forces will be required to vacate the COB to allow a US Brigade Unit under the command of HQ 10th Mountain Division to infill.

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The rumour mill has been churning at maximum revolutions since the Cabinet and Ministerial reshuffle. Speculation wasn't abated by the unwillingness/ inability of both No. 10 and the MoD Press office to confirm the titles and responsibilities. The (anonymous to protect the guilty) No. 10 non-spokesman, who on being asked about Lord Drayson said "oh equipment and support" without further enlightenment, threw a good dollop of fuel on the fires of speculation.

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