06 Mar 06. Diego Garcia: US Presence. A Foreign Office Minister said that there were 1,209 “foreign troops” currently based on Diego Garcia: 446 from the US Navy and 763 from the US Air Force. Comment: The above figures can be compared with those in ‘The Military Balance 2005/06′: 370 US Navy and 701 US Air Force. On 27 Feb 06 the Armed Forces’ Minister said that the UK’s “military presence” on Diego Garcia was 41 personnel. The British Service personnel are usually divided between the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, with a single Royal Military Policeman and together “they undertake a variety of customs, policing and security duties”. There has been media speculation about US activities on the atoll but, on 5 Jul 05, the Armed Forces’ Minister said that: “Terrorist suspects are not being held on Diego Garcia.”. The US presence in the British Indian Ocean Territory is governed by a 1966 lease (granted by a Labour Government) and a 1971 Immigration Order (Conservative Government). The US lease on part of Diego Garcia expires in 2016. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0611, 13 Mar 06)
09 Mar 06. Northern Ireland (NI): Disbandment of Home Service Battalions
The Armed Forces’ Minister announced the terms and conditions for the disbandment of the three Royal Irish Regiment (Home Service) battalions, as anticipated by the Defence Secretary on 1 Aug 05. Disbandment is to take place by 1 Aug 07, with some 3,000 personnel affected (roughly 2,000 full-time and 1,000 part-time soldiers). Generous financial arrangements have been agreed and arrangements made for transfers within the Army. There is to be a phased discharge of personnel from service from January 2007 with all part-time personnel discharged by 31 Mar 07. Full-time personnel will be released between March 2007 and March 2008. Comment: The Royal Irish Regiment (R IRISH) was formed in July 1992, through the amalgamation of the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Irish Rangers. 1 R IRISH is a General Service battalion of the British Army. 2, 3 & 4 R IRISH are the above three Home Service battalions which were raised specifically to support the Police (OP BANNER) and have served only in NI. The Territorial Army element of the R IRISH consists of one battalion, known as The Rangers. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0611, 13 Mar 06)
07 Mar 06. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Peacekeeping. EU Defence Ministers postponed a decision on sending extra peacekeeping troops to the DRC, but agreed to send their High Representative to the DRC to confirm MONUC’s needs. The UK Defence Secretary was quoted as saying: “There is willingness in Europe to respond [to the UN’s request for extra troops] and on this occasion it’s possible that our French and German colleagues will be in the lead….”.
A subsequent (9 Mar 06) Ministerial reply established that there were 16,820 uniformed personnel in MONUC, of whom 800 were stationed in the South East of the DRC. A further 750 UN troops are due to arrive shortly. Comment: A Foreign Office Minister stated the UK’s position on 13 Feb 06: “The UK believes that the EU should consider the UN request [for extra troops to go to the DRC] favourably. But the UK’s ability to contribute to any EU mission will be constrained by its heavy operational commitments elsewhere.”. [MONUC = Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies en République Démocratique du Congo.] (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0611, 13 Mar 06)
13 Mar 06. United Technologies, in a bid to bring an end to a strike by Teamster workers at its Sikorsky Aircraft division, said Monday it has handed a revised labor proposal to a federal labor mediator. The sweetened offer includes a 3% to 4% annual wage increase over the course of the three-year contract and a voluntary severance program for up to 200 Sikorsky workers. The strike, entering its fourth week, involves about 3,600 workers who walked off the job at plants in Connecticut to protest higher costs linked