NEWS IN BRIEF
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21 Mar 09. Iraq: OP TELIC. “The influx of US Forces into the region is also gathering momentum, adding further to the transition work being conducted by Coalition members.” (RAF Update, 21 Mar 09.) The Foreign Secretary announced that new applications from former Iraqi staff for both financial and resettlement benefits will cease to be accepted from 19 May 09, with appeals allowed until 30 Jun 09. (Hansard 23 Mar 09, Column 4 WS.) The House of Commons debated the need for an Iraq War Inquiry. The Foreign Secretary stated that an Inquiry will be established “as soon as practically possible” after British troops have left Iraq in July 2009. (Hansard 25 Mar 09, Column 312.)
Comment: Michael Portillo has written an interesting summary (‘Our departure from Iraq ends a dismal period in our military history’) in the current (28 Mar 09) edition of ‘The Spectator’. Mr Portillo was Defence Secretary from 1995 to 1997. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 09/14, 30 Mar 09)
20 Mar 09. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. The return of 24 Commando Engineer Regiment to Devon on 20 Mar 09 was the start of the return of over 6,500 members of 3 Commando Brigade and their replacement by 19 Light Brigade. (MoD, 20 Mar 09.) A number of specialists may be deployed to counter the IED (improvised explosive device) threat, but no such decision has yet been taken. (MoD, 23 Mar 09.) The Armed Forces use Reaper, Hermes 450 and the Desert Hawk 3 unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghanistan. (Defence Secretary, 23 Mar 09.) OP KAPCHA BAZ (Cobra Eagle) saw over 250 British and some 100 Afghan soldiers, led by the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, probe and disrupt the enemy. (MoD, 25 Mar 09.) The MoD uses helicopters provided by SkyLink Aviation through the NATO ISAF Contracted Air Transport contract to move freight. In addition, a national contract also provides medium and heavy helicopter lift. (Defence Secretary, 25 Mar 09.) The Chief of the General Staff gave a newspaper interview in which he said that elements of 12 Mechanised Brigade have been “earmarked for Afghanistan”. The Brigade had been training for deployment to Iraq but was later stood down. (The Times, 27 Mar 09.) The MoD claimed that “no decisions have been taken in relation to this issue”. (MoD, 27 Mar 09.)
Comment: With the inclusion of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates there are now 42 troop contributing nations in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
AFGHANISTAN: INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCE (ISAF)
TROOP CONTRIBUTING NATIONS (TCN) AS AT 13 MAR 09
United States 29,820
Macedonia (FYROM) 170
United Kingdom 8,300
New Zealand 150