NEWS IN BRIEF
19 Aug 07. Browne denies ‘failing’ UK troops. Defence Secretary Des Browne has denied claims the government is failing in its duty to UK troops who put their lives on the line for their country. The Royal British Legion had said the Military Covenant – guaranteeing troops fair treatment in return for forgoing other rights – is not being upheld. But Mr Browne told the Sunday Mirror he did not believe it had been broken and that it was crucial to “live up to it”. He also said Iraq troop numbers would be cut by 500 to 5,000 within weeks. The forces charity announced its Broken Covenant campaign last week to highlight issues facing troops. “We have a responsibility to support our troops and support their families, particularly when we are asking people to do very difficult and dangerous things,” Defence Secretary Des Browne. They include the need to boost medical care, strengthen the system of coroners’ inquests to ensure swift closure for bereaved families, and provide more compensation. Responding to claims the covenant had not been upheld, Mr Browne told the Sunday Mirror: “I don’t accept that it is broken but I think that we have to be careful that we live up to it. It is our duty to live up to it. “I agree with the British Legion that we have a responsibility to support our troops and support their families, particularly when we are asking people to do very difficult and dangerous things for our security.” He said he accepted that the government had to “get better” in the areas the charity had identified but said things were “improving”. Mr Browne said he was “willing to review” the compensation system and admitted some troops had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan more regularly than advised by military guidelines. “Critically, our soldiers feel valued and supported and thanked for what they are doing,” General Sir Richard Dannatt. But he said the government was doing a number of things to tackle the redeployment issue, including reducing Iraq troop levels from 5,500 to 5,000. “We have in the last months reduced our commitment by withdrawing from Bosnia, where we had about 1,000 troops,” he said. “We’ve brought an end to the operation in Northern Ireland. And I expect we will be down to 5,000 troops in Iraq in a matter of weeks.” Head of the Army General Sir Richard Dannatt told the BBC that although troops were “certainly stretched” and soldiers were not getting as long in barracks as he would like, morale was good. “We can be busy, we can be stretched, we can run hot – provided we are looking after individuals,” he said. “Critically, our soldiers feel valued and supported and thanked for what they are doing.” Senior military figures have warned that British forces are stretched to the limit on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and there have been complaints about inadequate equipment. There has also been criticism of the care and support given to some wounded personnel on their return from conflict as well as the backlog in coroners’ inquests for service personnel killed serving their country. (Source: BBC)(See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.9 ISSUE 33, 17 Aug 2007, MINISTERS FAILING SOLDIERS, By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE).
15 Aug 07. Iraq: OP TELIC. From 1 Jan 06 to 31 Jul 07, 267 personnel were categorised as Wounded in Action and 1,095 were aeromedically evacuated. (MoD, 15 Aug 07.) From 16 to 31 Jul 07, the figures were 22 and 35.
“Our mission there [in Basrah] was to get the place and the people to a state where the Iraqis could run that part of the Country if they chose to and we’re very nearly there.” (CDS, quoted by MoD, 13 Aug 07.)
Comment: “Public support, it seems, hinges less on whether soldiers are dying than on whether they are winning.” (‘The Economist’, 18 Aug 07.)(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0733, 20 Aug 07)
12 Aug 07. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. A Captain from 1st Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment was killed during an attack on his patrol base North Eas