Sunday, 14 April 2024
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UK armed forces and defence

By Nigel Green, Research Associate, U K Defence Forum

The Royal Navy is preparing for one of its biggest exercises in recent years. Taurus 09 will see a task force of 12 ships leave Plymouth on February 18, heading for the Mediterranean, the Middle East and South East Asia.

The Task Force includes two nuclear powered submarines, as well as the Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) HMS Bulwark and HMS Ocean and the Type 23 frigates HMS Argyll and HMS Somerset. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary has provided the vessels Mounts Bay, Lyme Bay, Wave Ruler and Fort Austin.

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The Secretary of State for Defence (Rt Hon John Hutton) said today: We have decided to procure three instrumented test aircraft and associated support equipment to enable UK participation in the joint Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Air System alongside the US Services, and to continue our contributions to the

Production Sustainment and Follow-on Development (PSFD) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

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Written by Graham Moonie

On Monday 23rd March the House of Commons National Audit Committee took evidence on development of the Type 45 Destroyer. Giving evidence were: Sir Bill Jeffrey, Permanent Secretary, Dr Andrew Tyler, Chief Operating Officer, Defence Equipment and Support, and Rear Admiral Paul Lambert CB, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff Designate (Equipment Capability), Ministry of Defence.

The committee focussed on the causes for the 1.5 billion overspend which resulted in only six ships being developed rather than eight. In particular the committee looked at what mistakes were made at the start of the project and what was done to correct these mistakes in the last two and a half years.

An uncorrected transcript of the proceedings can be viewed here


Written by Simon Roberts

Around 310 reservists are currently mobilised and deployed in support of operations in Iraq compared with 270 for the same period last year and 640 in December 2006. With the forthcoming withdrawl of UK forces from Iraq, the overall number of reservists deployed to theatre is expected to reduce during this year. But because there is a continued need to call out reservists, particularly to assist with the logistics and service support elements of the operation both in the UK and overseas, the UK Government has today made a further call-out Order to cover the whole of 2009.

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Below is the executive summary taken from the Haddon-Cave review into the broader issues surrounding the loss of the RAF Nimrod MR2 Aircraft XV230 in Afghanistan in 2006

A full version of the report can be found here

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By Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth MP, Minister for the Armed Forces

The then Secretary of State for Defence's statement on 16 June 2008 (Official Report column 677-678) referred to the decision to withdraw the Harrier force and replace it with an equivalent force of Tornado GR4s by Spring 2009 to Kandahar airfield. Delays in construction of the necessary supporting infrastructure and our current estimate of the time required to complete the Tornado Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) enhancements means that the Tornado GR4s will now deploy in Summer 2009. We expect delivery of the UORs in advance of completion of the infrastructure project and will keep both programmes under constant review to ensure completion as quickly as possible. In the interim, Joint Force Harrier will continue to contribute to the provision of close air support to UK and Allied Forces in Southern Afghanistan; 1 (Fighter) Squadron will therefore replace IV (Army Co-operation) Squadron in mid-April.


Statement made to the House of Commons by Rt Hon John Hutton MO, UK Secretary of State for Defence

I wish to make a statement on the results of a recent MOD review of records of detention resulting from security operations carried out by UK Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is essential I believe that our Armed Forces are able to detain people who pose a real threat, either to our troops, those of our allies, or to the local population that we are seeking to protect. These operations are conducted by our forces with courage, integrity and professionalism and in undertaking these operations we take fully into account our obligations under international law.

In February last year, allegations were made that persons captured by UK forces in Iraq were transferred to US detention facilities were mistreated and removed unlawfully from Iraq.

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To the members of the British Forces who have served on OP TELIC.

Congratulations on a job well done! Today's restructuring of Multi-National Division South East command in Basra and the transfer of security responsibilities in Basra marks a historic occasion. On behalf of the American service members who have served proudly alongside you in Iraq, I would like to thank you for your hard work and sacrifice over the last six years.

You and your comrades in arms have helped produce important achievements. Your expert assistance has been instrumental in building and professionalizing the new Iraqi Navy and Marines. During Operation Charge of the Knights a year

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The Chief of the Defence Staff, ACM Sir Jock Stirrup, has sent the following message to British armed forces:

Today is a significant milestone for our Armed Forces. After more than six years, we are handing over residual coalition responsibilities in Basra to our US allies. The British land campaign in Iraq, which started in March 2003, will come to an end and our remaining personnel will be coming home. In the same vein, the RAF will shortly end 19 years of operations over Iraq.

Whatever debate continues about the lead up to the invasion in 2003, whatever Coalition mistakes were made along the way, we can be clear on one thing: the UK Armed Forces have made an outstanding contribution to the transition of Iraq from

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Below is a statement released by the Combined Maritime Forces

Last week, while conducting counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, HMS Portland detected, intercepted and boarded two suspicious skiffs preventing a possible pirate attack. In coordination with a Spanish maritime patrol aircraft, Portland identified, pursued and subsequently conducted a boarding of the vessels where they found articles that indicated the skiff had been involved or was about to conduct an act of piracy, and were clearly not those of an innocent fishing vessel.

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This is a strange series which appears to start at number 2.

The reality is that the first realistic analysis was made by the Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup in his 2008 speech on Iraq and Afghanistan which we published in full on 1st December 2008. Today he published immediate reaction to the deaths of 8 UK soldiers in 24 hour, which we reproduce below. The sting is in the tail, and from which we draw the sub heading for this piece.

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In an immediate reaction to UK casualties in Afghanistan (8 dead in 24 hours, no news on wounded, as usual with MoD announcements) British Foreign Secretary David Miliband spoke to the BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme about the situation in Afghanistan on 11 July 2009.

This transcript was published and publicised by the Foreign Office:

John Humphrys (JH): Eight British Servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan in twenty four hours. That fact, hideous though it may be, does nothing to change the intellectual argument for the British presence there. But emotionally and politically it may well change everything.

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From liberation to bachabasi

By Paul Flynn MP

It's easier to repeat an old lie than reveal a new truth.

Politicians are in denial and refuse to confront the deep futility of the war in Afghanistan. It's more comfortable to tilt at the windmills of peripheral issues. Last year it was blaming fellow Europeans for dodging their share of the burden. Now, it's the myth that more troops and helicopters are solutions.

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Joe Biden
US Vice-President Joe Biden has told the BBC today that the war in Afghanistan is in the interests of the US and the UK.
"It is worth the effort we are making," he said, warning that the terror groups on the border with Pakistan could "wreak havoc" on Europe and the US. The number of foreign troop deaths has jumped recently, sparking questions in the UK over its involvement in the war. Mr Biden suggested more sacrifice would have to be made during what he termed the "fighting season". He was speaking to the BBC's Jonathan Beale during a European trip which has taken him to Ukraine and Georgia. The vice-president insisted that "in terms of national interest of Great Britain, the US and Europe, [the war in Afghanistan] is worth the effort we are making and the sacrifice that is being felt". He added: "And more will come". He said forces were for the first time directly tackling Taleban fighters in some areas of the country (see map below) "This, unfortunately, is the fighting season [...] the trees are up in the mountains again, people are able to infiltrate from the hills of Pakistan, and in Helmand province - where the Taleban had free rein for a number of years, we are engaging them now." And he reiterated the Obama administration's rationale for the conflict. "This is the place from which the attacks of 9/11 and all those attacks in Europe that came from al-Qaeda have flowed from that place - between Afghanistan and Pakistan." He said the terror groups who sheltered along the Afghan-Pakistan border combined with the country's role in the international drug trade - supplying 90% of the world's heroin - meant the war in Afghanistan needed to succeed. "It is a place that, if it doesn't get straightened out, will continue to wreak havoc on Europe and the United States," he said. He said the goal of the US was both "eradicating terrorism and not planting the seeds for its return," underlining the importance of removing the lucrative heroin-producing poppy crop which funds both al-Qaeda and radical jihadists. Over the last few years, the US has used controversial drone attacks to hit militant targets in Pakistan from Afghanistan. Pakistan has in the past expressed concerns about the impact of such military offensives in southern Afghanistan on south-west Pakistan as militants seep over the border into the restive Baluchistan province. Mr Biden was full of praise for British troops, calling them "among the best trained and bravest warriors in the world". But he was unable to comment on the standard of equipment that British troops had been given. A political row has broken out in the UK over the adequacy of British troops' equipment, after Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch Brown told a reporter that "we definitely don't have enough helicopters". Lord Malloch Brown later withdrew his remarks. Critics say British troops' lack of helicopters has made them more vulnerable to roadside explosives. Mr Biden said that he was "not in a position to make a judgement" but said he assumed they had all they needed. Asked about the recent announcement that a report on the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp was being delayed, Mr Biden said the administration had been busy trying to determine what should happen to each of the detainees held there. "We are going through every single detainee's records ... to make a judgement about whether or not they should be tried [or] ... released and if so what country might take them if we can't get them back to the country of origin because they're going to be tortured or mistreated," he said. But he expressed confidence that the camp would still be closed according to the timetable laid out by President Barack Obama in January, and hinted that some of the detainees would be retained at another prison. "We expect before January - well before January - we will have a decision on each and every individual being held."

HMS Atherstone, an 800 tonne mine hunter, returned home to Portsmouth last week after a two year mission.

She sailed the 10,000 km distance to and from station, and had five different crews during the deployment.

Her role was to provide security in the Gulf for surrounding nations, and has now been relieved by a similar ship, HMS Middleton.

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125 extra British Army personnel will deploy to Afghanistan from Monday 27 July to reinforce UK forces there. They comprise of a company from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's), specialist counter Improvise Explosive Device personnel from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps, and members of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery.

They will deploy for the remainder of the current 19 Light Brigade tour (Op Herrick 10), due to end in October when 11 Light Brigade takes over (Full details will be published in Defence Viiewpoints on 27th July).

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The force elements deploying as 11 Light Brigade from October 2009 to April 2010 include:

* Headquarters, 6 (UK) Division

* 11 Light Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron (261)

* Headquarters, 8 Force Engineer Brigade

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By Brigadier Tim Radford, Commander, Task Force Helmand

(a speech delivered on 9th July 2009)

Task Force Helmand is one half of the ISAF force in this province, comprising some six thousand troops from the United Kingdom, Denmark and Estonia. As many of you know, three weeks ago my Task Force launched Operation PANCHAI PALANG, and even as I speak to you today, we are continuing our deliberate advance to clear anti-Afghan forces from key towns and villages in central Helmand.

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By Bill Rammel MP, Minister for the Armed Forces

The first duty of government is to keep its people safe. Our National Security Strategy, updated earlier this year, sets out the threats we face. It shows how far the threats have evolved, and why an agile, cross-government response is required.

9/11 was a catalyst for change. Those images of planes flying into the twin towers are seared on our consciousness. On 7th July 2005, 52 innocent people were killed and 700 injured on the London underground and bus network by suicide bombers. This time the terrorists were British citizens working with Al Qaeda.

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Latest from the Ministry of Defence

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