03 Nov 06. UK armed forces ‘below strength’. Some troops were sent on missions too frequently, said the report. UK armed forces are understaffed, with rising numbers of personnel quitting early, the government has been warned. The National Audit Office says the are 5,170 below strength and since 2001 have operated at or above predicted deployment levels. The strain of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time, is one reason for shortages, the report said. The MoD agreed operating at this level meant “additional strains” on staff, but denied forces were overstretched. The National Audit Office warned the armed forces were 2.8% short of full strength – total personnel is now 180,690. (Source: BBC)
28 Oct 06. Iraq: OP TELIC. The soldier who died following a traffic accident on 27 Oct 06 was named as Lieutenant T P Tanswell, Royal Artillery. (MoD, 28 Oct 06.) Installation of air-conditioning in all fixed living accommodation will be completed before the onset of hot weather next year. (Ministerial Answer (MA), 30 Oct 06.) Some of the British civilian presence in Basrah is moving temporarily from the Basrah Palace compound….because of the increased threat from mortar and rocket attacks…. (MA, 30 Oct 06.) “By the end of this year, there will be a military managed ward at Selly Oak Hospital.” (MA, 30 Oct 06.) The next roulement of UK troops starts in November 2006 and, upon completion, will maintain around 7,100 Service personnel in Iraq. (MA, 30 Oct 06.) Between March 2003 and 31 Dec 05 there were 230 UK military and civilian personnel treated at UK medical facilities in Iraq for wounds received as a result of hostile action. (MA, 30 Oct 06.) There are currently 300 Territorial Army personnel mobilised on Operations in Iraq. (MA, 31 Oct 06.) There have been 159 Royal Military Police investigations into OP TELIC shooting incidents since 2003, of which 149 were closed with no further action recommended. Seven individuals have been convicted by Court Martial or summary procedures. (MA, 2 Nov 06.)
Comment: In the first full Commons Debate on Iraq since July 2004, the Government was supported by 298 Members and opposed by 273 on 31 Oct 06. 12 Labour Members rebelled. Allowing for the Speaker and his three Deputies as well as five Sinn Fein Members, 66 Members were apparently absent.
Channel 4 is to broadcast a film (‘The Mark of Cain’), in January 2007, about four British soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees. The programme is fictional and the MoD is not associated with the production in any way. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0642, 06 Nov 06)
30 Oct 06. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. Contrary to media reports, patrols and operations continue and have increased. The redeployment from Musa Qala was at the express request of the Helmand Governor. (MoD, 30 Oct 06.)
In the nine months from January to September 2006 1,206 Harrier sorties were flown (an average of 134 per month). (MA, 30 Oct 06.) The standard tour length is six months for RN/RM and Army personnel and four months for the RAF (within all Operational Theatres). (MA, 30 Oct 06.) At no time have troops on the ground run out of all ammunition types available to them. (MA, 30 Oct 06.) There are currently 210 Territorial Army personnel mobilised on Operations in Afghanistan. (MA, 31 Oct 06.) Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers handed over their responsibilities in Now Zad to K Company, 42 Commando. (MoD, 1 Nov 06.) As at 17 Oct 06, there had been 292 military contacts between UK Forces and Taliban in Helmand Province since June 2006. (MA, 2 Nov 06.)
Comment: In the House of Commons (2 Nov 06), the Armed Forces’ Minister said that the decision to deploy to Helmand “was based on rigorous UK military planning and assessment”. Identification of additional and reserve Forces was a matter for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), “using the NATO Force Generation Process”.(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0642, 06 Nov 06)
30 Oct 06. R