NEWS IN BRIEF
21 Jan 08. Iraq: OP TELIC. The Defence Secretary gave details (21 Jan 08) of a range of military equipment which had been supplied by the UK for use by the Iraqi security forces. Consignments were “gifted” in 2005 and 2006. There are no plans to “gift” military equipment in future. (Ministerial Answer (MA), 21 Jan 08.)
“Levels of violence are still unacceptably high….” (MA, 21 Jan 08.)
“….only last week there were 4,330 troops in Iraq, but that number fluctuates….” (MA, 21 Jan 08.)
The UK Government remains committed to bringing to justice those responsible for the murder of six members of the Royal Military Police at Al Majar Al Kabir on 24 Jun 03. (MA, 22 Jan 08.)
Since the start of airbridge support to OP TELIC in April 2003, the RAF has transported 353,675 personnel to Iraq. (MoD, 24 Jan 08.)
The MoD released a Report by Brigadier R H T Aitken, which set out “the Army’s response to cases of abuse and unlawful killing of civilians in Iraq in 2003 and the early part of 2004”. (MoD, 25 Jan 08.)
The Royal Dragoon Guards Battle Group (three Squadrons from The Royal Dragoon Guards and one Company from 1st Bn The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment) has completed its role training Iraqi soldiers and is preparing to return to Germany. (MoD, 25 Jan 08.)
Comment: Former Secretaries of State and Diplomats were among the speakers in a House of Lords Debate on ‘Iraq’. The Debate is recorded in Hansard for 24 Jan 08, starting at Column 338.
Publication of the ‘Aitken Report’ evoked highly critical media reaction (some of it remarkably ill-informed). The Report is available from the MoD website (www.mod.uk).
20 Jan 08. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. A Corporal from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was killed on 20 Jan 08 in Helmand Province when his vehicle hit a mine. UK deaths since the start of Operations in October 2001 thus rose to 87, of whom 57 have been classified as Killed in Action and four as Died of Wounds sustained in action. (MoD, 20 Jan 08.)
NATO is to lease a mix of aircraft suitable to carry the contracted 13,000kg of freight per day. The first aircraft is expected to enter Afghanistan in early 2008, on a one-year contract with the option to extend for a second.
(MA, 21 Jan 08.)
In (both Iraq and) Afghanistan all medical evacuation helicopters are equipped with hoists. (MA, 21 Jan 08.)
Recent pledges made by European NATO members include additional forces from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Poland, Romania and Turkey. (MA, 23 Jan 08.)
Since the start of airbridge support to OP HERRICK in October 2004, the RAF has transported 115,357 personnel to Afghanistan. (MoD, 24 Jan 08.)
Comment: ‘The Times’ reported (25 Jan 08.) that President Karzai had “accused his British allies of bungling the military Operation in Helmand and setting back prospects for the area by 18 months”. A spokesman for the Prime Minister refuted the criticism.
Jan 08. BOWMAN battery problems (See: Parliamentary Questions).
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the ability of ABSL/AEA to provide batteries for Bowman to the standard required in theatre; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Department has not undertaken an assessment of ABSL/AEA’s
ability to provide batteries for Bowman to the required standard. Overall
responsibility to MOD for the standard of the product rests with the Bowman
Prime Contractor, General Dynamics United Kingdom Ltd. However, ABSL Power
Solutions, as the battery provider, is responsible for the quality and assurance
of their products.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons Bowman
HF batteries have been recalled for replacement; and who was responsible for
ensuring that the quality of this product was of the standard necessary for
theatre before it was sent overseas. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In 2006, Bowman High Frequency (HF) Mark 1