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NEWS IN BRIEF

EUROPE

01 Feb 06. HMS Daring, the first of the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 class of anti air warfare destroyers, was launched on 1 February 2006 at 14:25 from the BAE Systems shipyard at Scotstoun, on the Clyde. The Lady Sponsor was her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex.

26 Jan 06. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. EX HERRICK EAGLE started on 23 Jan and is to continue until 3 Feb 06. The Exercise involves some 3,000 personnel including elements of 16 Air Assault Brigade and is being held in anticipation of an extended deployment to Afghanistan. The three major English training areas (Stanford, Salisbury Plain & Otterburn) are being used for the Exercise, as well as a number of active and disused airfields. The Defence Secretary announced (26 Jan 06) that 3,300 UK Service personnel are to deploy to Southern Afghanistan in 2006. The total number of troops in Afghanistan will peak, briefly, at some 5,700 before reducing to under 4,700. The new deployment is expected to last for three years but has been costed at “around £1 billion [£1,000m] over a five-year period”. The resources are to be made available from 2006/07. Comment: A MoD Press Conference was called on 26 Jan 06 at under two hours’ notice (thus not allowing time to cross London even for those who seldom leave their personal computers). It has not been possible to reduce the subsequent mass of MoD paper to a coherent single page during the time available, but it is hoped to do so during the coming week. One possible source of confusion has been noticed. In his Statement, the Defence Secretary referred to the (Territorial Army) Royal Rifle Volunteers. The MoD Press Office changed the name of the unit to the Royal Regiment of Volunteers, which does not exist. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0605, 30 Jan 06)

31 Jan 06. NATO’s Standardization Agency broadens cooperation. On 31 January, following intense cooperation at expert level, the NATO Standardization Agency (NSA) and GS1, a leading international standardization organisation, signed an agreement formalizing and broadening their cooperation. This cooperation focuses in particular on supply chain standards and technologies. The Technical Cooperation Agreement, which is similar to agreements that the NSA has with other organisations, will allow the Agency to contribute to proposed draft GS1 specifications, and allow in turn GS1 to contribute to the standardization activities of the NATO standardization community. Specifically, the agreement paves the way for exchanges of documents and information, direct participation in relevant working groups of both standardization organisations, written contributions on proposed draft specifications and standards, and exchange of experts. The NSA has similar agreements with the European Committee for Standardisation, the American National Standards Institute, the European Telecommunication Standards Institute, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation and the American Society for Testing and Measurement, signed in 2004 and 2005.

Jan 06. Defence Committee: Forthcoming Inquiries. The Committee is to take evidence for its Defence Industrial Strategy Inquiry on 31 Jan, 7 Feb and 28 Feb 06. On 31 Jan 06 evidence is due to be given by industrialists at 10.30hrs and by Lord Levene (a former Chief of Defence Procurement) at 12.00hrs in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House (room subject to confirmation).
The Committee is to hold a series of Inquiries about the Future of the Strategic Nuclear Deterrent. Oral evidence sessions are due to be held in March 2006.
Comment: Contrary to media reports, the Committee is not holding an Inquiry into the sale of QinetiQ. Aspects of the sale are likely to form part of the Committee’s Industrial Strategy Inquiry. Nuclear deterrence was debated in the House of Commons on 23 Jan 06, during Oral Questions. A record will be found in Hansard for the day, starting at the end of Column 1151

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