05 Feb 07. Baghdad set for big security push. The US currently has 132,000 soldiers in Iraq and is sending more. A command centre for a joint US-Iraqi offensive aimed at restoring security in Baghdad is about to go into operation, US military officials say. The centre begins work amid escalating violence that saw 130 people die in a Baghdad suicide bombing at the weekend. But it is not clear when the much-heralded security push will begin. The worsening situation has prompted Iraq’s Sunni Vice-President to call on the US to speed up its promised deployment of extra troops to Baghdad. Tariq Hashimi, one of the country’s two vice-presidents and the country’s most senior Sunni politician, told the BBC that previous efforts to stem the violence had failed because they involved too few combat troops. “I…would like to see the troops that we’ve been promised very soon,” Mr Hashimi said, warning that if that did not happen, the situation could deteriorate even further. He was also scathing about the Iraqi government’s own response to the violence, saying it was slow and unprofessional, while he blamed the increase in attacks on Iran, arguing that the recent bombings were so large a government had to be involved. (Source: BBC)
08 Feb 07. Review into the future of the UK Hydrographic Office. The Ministry of Defence has announced a review to investigate the best possible structure and ownership options for the future of the UK Hydrographic Office. The Under Secretary of State for Defence, Derek Twigg, has announced the review to explore whether different arrangements would better support the delivery of services to defence and other customers, such as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
18 Jan 07. Chinook Helicopters: Availability. The Armed Forces’ Minister said (29 Jan 07) that, as at 18 Jan 07, there were 40 Chinook HC2/2a in service. 25 of the aircraft are in the Forward Fleet (involved in front line and training activities) including the eight deployed to Afghanistan.
Comment: The Afghan commitment is currently manned by 27 Squadron RAF, based at Odiham. The aircraft are reportedly “heavily-tasked”.(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0706, 05 Feb 07)
Feb 07. Bahrain: OP AINTREE. Navy News (February 2007) reported that OP AINTREE, the three-year tour of duty by the Sandown Class minehunters HMS RAMSEY and BLYTH, had started well in Bahrain. The vessels arrived in Mina Sulman in time for Christmas after passage from Faslane via Portugal, Sardinia, Crete, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.
Comment: While the two minehunters are in Bahrain, their crews are being rotated. It is anticipated that most Sandown crews will have had experience of operating in the Gulf’s “challenging conditions” by the end of
OP AINTREE. Opportunities are also being taken to work with other Navies, such as those from: France, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0706, 05 Feb 07)
Feb 07. Type 23 frigate HMS Portland has been handed back to the Fleet following a nine-month upkeep period completed by Fleet Support Limited (FSL) in Portsmouth. The Devonport-based ship then sailed from Portsmouth on the same day to start a programme of crew training in the South West in preparation for deployment in early summer. FSL has carried out an extensive enhancement and maintenance package on the 1999-built ship that has kept some 150 personnel busy.
01 Feb 07. Northrop Grumman Corporation opened a new UK diagnostic and maintenance support facility in Chester yesterday. The new facility, formally opened by the Chief of Defence Logistics General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue, will enable Northrop Grumman, in partnership with SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems (S&AS), to provide a range of support services for the repair and maintenance of laser-based Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures systems (LAIRCM) and lamp-based Directional Infrared Countermeasures systems (DIRCM), which are currentl