NEWS IN BRIEF
03 Dec 08. Parliament: State Opening. The State Opening of Parliament, marking the start of the 2008/09 Parliamentary Session, took place on 3 Dec 08. Delivering the Queen’s Speech, Her Majesty outlined a legislative programme of 15 Bills against the background of the Government’s overriding priority “to ensure the stability of the British economy during the global economic downturn”. The Government is to continue to work as part of NATO, “including at its 60th anniversary summit”. The Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan were mentioned as foreign policy priorities.
Comment: As has become commonplace with the present Administration, most of the Speech had already been ‘leaked’ to the media and thus it contained few surprises. Apart from the customary mention of NATO, there was no direct reference to Defence in the Speech. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0848, 08 Dec 08)
04 Dec 08. Iraq: OP TELIC. A Lance Corporal from 9 Regiment Army Air Corps died at the Contingency Operating Base in Basrah on 4 Dec 08. The NCO had suffered a gunshot wound but there is no evidence to suggest that anyone else was involved. UK deaths since the start of Operations in March 2003 thus rose to 177, of whom 136 were killed as a result of hostile action. (MoD, 4 Dec 08.)
From 1 Jan 06 to 15 Nov 08, 315 personnel were categorised as Wounded in Action and 1,675 were aeromedically evacuated. (MoD, 3 Dec 08.) From 1 to 15 Nov 08 the figures were nil and 25.
There are currently some 2,200 civilian contractors listed as working for the MoD on OP TELIC. (Ministerial Answer (MA), 26 Nov 08.)
“The UK and the Government of Iraq are negotiating a legal framework to allow UK Forces to continue to provide the assistance requested of us by Iraqi authorities…” (MA, 26 Nov 08.)
Comment: In his annual speech at the Royal United Services Institute (1 Dec 08), the Chief of the Defence Staff said: “We’re now close to the stage where we can alter fundamentally our mission in Iraq…..That transition will dramatically reduce the number of people we have on the ground in Iraq.”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0848, 08 Dec 08)
03 Dec 08. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. From 1 Jan 06 to 15 Nov 08, 524 personnel were categorised as Wounded in Action and 1,527 were aeromedically evacuated. (MoD, 3 Dec 08.) From 1 to 15 Nov 08 the figures were 16 and 48.
There are currently some 3,000 civilian contractors listed as working for the MoD on OP HERRICK.
(MA, 26 Nov 08.)
The MoD is “examining options to deploy Merlin helicopters and additional Chinook airframes to Afghanistan.”. (MA, 26 Nov 08.)
Royal Marines from 42 Commando Group occupied parts of Kandahar Province in support of a Canadian initiative to extend ISAF areas of influence. (MoD, 4 Dec 08.)
Comment: In his annual speech at the Royal United Services Institute (1 Dec 08), the Chief of the Defence Staff said: “We cannot simply make a one-for-one transfer from Iraq to Afghanistan. I’m not saying that we couldn’t or shouldn’t do more in Afghanistan if we judge that to be necessary. What I am saying is that we have to be able to sustain whatever we do.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0848, 08 Dec 08)
05 Dec 08. EU Defence: 10 Years Since Saint-Malo. The Defence Secretary marked (5 Dec 08) the 10th anniversary of the Saint-Malo declaration on EU Defence by welcoming the French Defence Minister to the OP ATALANTA Headquarters at Northwood (Item 4). The original Defence Letter of Intent (LoI), signed on board HMS BIRMINGHAM on 4 Dec 98, provided for “joint Operations to be mounted”.
Comment: According to the MoD the Saint-Malo declaration was the catalyst for the EU’s engagement in military and civilian crisis management, which led to the ESDP (European Security and Defence Policy). Written at the time, DNA 98/46 saw matters rather differently: “The UK’s sudden interest in European security appears to be entirely ‘political’, rather than stemming from