20 Nov 06. Iraq: OP TELIC. Ministers were “not aware” that the Coalition had reduced from 42 to 23 contributing nations, of which more than half had fewer than 150 troops. (Ministerial Answer (MA), 20 Nov 06.) “We expect to hand over a third Province at the end of the year.” (MA, 20 Nov 06.) The UN Mission reported that 3,345 civilians were violently killed in September and 3,709 in October 2006. (UN, 22 Nov 06.) The total of the annual audited figures for the cost of Operations in Iraq for the years 2002/03 to 2005/06 was £4,026m. (MA, 23 Nov 06.) A Parachute Regiment soldier was shot and killed during a search and detention Operation in Basrah City on 24 Nov 06. (MoD, 24 Nov 06.) The number of deaths since the start of hostilities thus rose to 126 (six from natural causes, 38 accidentally, six from friendly fire and 76 killed in action).
Comment: In the House of Commons (22 Nov 06), the Foreign Secretary said that the UK expected Maysan Province to be transferred to Iraqi control in January. Mrs Beckett continued: “the progress of our current Operations in Basrah gives us confidence that we may be able to achieve transition in that Province too at some point next Spring.”. The Foreign Secretary’s observations were supported by the Defence Secretary at the close of the same Debate. Subsequent Parliamentary discussions were more circumspect about a withdrawal timetable. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0645, 27 Nov 06)
21 Nov 06.)Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. The Prime Minister visited (20 Nov 06) Camp Bastion. As well as representatives from all three Services, the Prime Minister met Estonian and Danish Infantry soldiers and Afghan translators. (MoD, 21 Nov 06.) Security Forces total 119,000, made up of: ISAF – 32,000; Afghan Army – 37,000; Afghan Police – 42,000 and Coalition – 8,000. (ISAF, 22 Nov 06.)
The next routine roulement, which will replace 42 and 45 Commando in Helmand Province, is due to take place during April/May 2007. An announcement will be made in due course. (MA, 22 Nov 06.) It is expected that the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps will hand over the ISAF HQ function in February 2007. (MA, 23 Nov 06.)
Comment: The MoD Press Office has had another jolly week countering newspaper stories (Brigade Commanders misquoted, alleged lack of equipment and ammunition supposedly defective). Journalists will inevitably be seeking a ‘story’ and there will always be some soldiers prepared to feed them juicy morsels.
(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0645, 27 Nov 06)
21 Nov 06. Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: White Paper Awaited. The Defence Secretary reiterated (21 Nov 06) the Government’s intention to publish a White Paper “once decisions have been taken later this year on the future of the nuclear deterrent”. The White Paper would consider “risks, threats, options and costs”. The MoD confirmed (24 Nov 06) that the Defence Secretary had introduced a Cabinet discussion on Future Security Threats on 23 Nov 06. The Cabinet had not been asked to come to a decision on the future of the nuclear deterrent at this stage. Comment: Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have, apparently, decided that the UK is to retain a strategic nuclear deterrent. With so much ‘hot air’ appearing in the media, it is probably sensible to await publication of the White Paper before rushing to judgment about Trident and any possible successor. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0645, 27 Nov 06)
28 Nov 06. Likelihood of UK leaving Iraq anytime soon looks slim Government attempt to put positive slant says that British troops will not leave until the US does. In the Commons, an SNP attempt to force a vote on withdrawal is blocked “Even when all the provinces are handed over, we will still be providing a
force to mentor and back up the Iraqi army and police, and to protect coalition supply routes.” – Des Browne, the Defence Secretary. The final withdrawal of British forces from Iraq will not take place until the US pulls ou