NEWS IN BRIEF
12 Mar 08. Budget: Defence Expenditure. In his Budget Statement (12 Mar 08) the Chancellor of the Exchequer paid tribute “to our Servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families”. The Chancellor anticipated spending over £2,000m more “supporting our troops on the front line, including around £900m on military equipment” in the 2008/09 financial year. (See also Item 4.) The £2,000m will come from the Reserve and is in addition to the core Defence Budget.
The core Defence Budget was announced on 9 Oct 07 in the Comprehensive Spending Review and tabulated at Table D14. In ‘near-cash’ terms the Defence Budget was subsequently confirmed as: 2007/08 – £29,411m; 2008/09 – £30,763m; 2009/10 – £31,921m and 2010/11 – £33,328m.
As a proportion of Total Managed Expenditure (TME), Social Security benefits are projected to decrease
slightly to 23.1%; expenditure on Health is set to rise to 16.6%; Education is planned to rise to 13.5% while Defence falls to 6.7%.
Comment: Defence attracted only a grudging mention in the Chancellor’s Statement. ‘Budget 2008’ (the Red Book) was published on Budget Day, as HC 388 for £45:00, but the 212-page tome will have little attraction for the Defence community (other than for economists). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0812, 17 Mar 08)
07 Mar 08. Iraq: OP TELIC. UK force levels in Southern Iraq are currently around 4,100 but the MoD continues to plan to reduce this figure to around 2,500 from Spring 2008. (Defence Secretary, 7 Mar 08.)
The average cost of feeding personnel in Iraq is £6:47 each per day, of which 51% is food and 49% is storage/distribution. (Ministerial Answer (MA), 7 Mar 08.)
Major General B W B White-Spunner, GOC Multi-National Division (SE), gave a press conference to the Iraqi media, expressing “his optimism for the future of Basrah and the whole of Southern Iraq…”. (MoD, 9 Mar 08.)
Members of 1st Bn The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment have been conducting patrols around the Contingency Operating Base. (MoD, 10 Mar 08.)
Command of Combined Task Force 158 passed from Commodore A du Toit RAN to Commodore D L Potts RN on 10 Mar 08. CTF 158’s primary mission is maintaining security in and around the Al Basrah and Khawr Al Amaya oil terminals. (MoD, 11 Mar 08.)
112,875 campaign medals have been issued for service on OP TELIC. (MA, 13 Mar 08.)
Comment: ‘Bad Days in Basra’ (ISBN 978-1-84511-706-1) was published by I B Tavris on 10 Mar 08. This highly recommended account by Sir Hilary Synnott is sub-titled ‘My Turbulent Time as Britain’s Man in Southern Iraq’. Before joining the Diplomatic Service, Sir Hilary spent 11 years in the Royal Navy. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0812, 17 Mar 08)
07 Mar 08. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. The average cost of feeding personnel is £12:84 each per day, of which 32% is food and 68% is storage/distribution. (MA, 7 Mar 08.)
A Taliban torture chamber in the Upper Gereshk Valley was uncovered by Afghan troops working with soldiers from 1st Bn Coldstream Guards. (MoD, 11 Mar 08.)
The 27 Desert Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles lost in Afghanistan all crashed either as a result of technical failure or following an unexplained loss of signal. One of the 27 was subsequently recovered. (MA, 12 Mar 08.)
Soldiers from 2nd Bn The Yorkshire Regiment are advising members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) on ways to fight the Taliban. (MoD, 12 Mar 08.)
49,078 campaign medals have been issued for service on OP VERITAS/OP HERRICK. (MA, 13 Mar 08.)
A Danish Battle Group and an Estonian Company are under the operational command of the British HQ at Task Force Helmand. The ANA deploys five units of Battalion size or greater in Helmand Province, but there is no formal command relationship between ISAF and ANA units. (MA, 13 Mar 08.)
The killing of four civilians and the injury of a fifth on 11 Mar 08, following an air strike, is “under investigation and it would be inappropriate for [the] MoD to comme