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22 Feb 11. Arms trade questions for David Cameron on Gulf trip. Mr Cameron visited Kuwait as part of his tour. Can military meet demands?
How can you sell democracy and arms at the same time? That is the question that has dogged David Cameron on the latest stage of his trip to the Gulf. In his delegation of 26 businessmen, eight work for companies in the defence and aerospace industry. Some – particularly those who read the Guardian newspaper closely – have suggested that this is somehow incompatible with his new foreign policy of promoting political and economic reform. Mr Cameron’s thesis is that it is no longer enough simply to form alliances with “highly controlling” regimes here to protect Britain’s security and economic interests, and turn a blind eye to what they do to their own people. These countries are no longer stable. Instead it is those countries that reform and give some ground to their youthful, opinionated populations that will be the most stable, he says. But does this new found desire for democracy in the Gulf fit with the arms sales? Well, I put that question to the prime minister and his response was robust. “Democracies have a right to defend themselves. That argument is very powerful in Kuwait. “The idea that Kuwait should not be able to have its own armed forces, that it is unable to defend its own country and take part in defence trade, is an extraordinary argument.” He said the British rules for arms sales were among the tightest in the world. A properly regulated defence industry is perfectly right and proper. The truth, as ever, is more prosaic. This trip to the Gulf has been planned for some time. All trips to the Gulf include business delegations that include some defence contractors. The uprisings across the region and Mr Cameron’s new foreign policy have emerged in the last few weeks. Thus do defence sales and democracy clash? The defence issue clearly gets in the way of the trip but it does not overshadow it. That honour belongs to Libya. (Source: BBC)
14 Feb 11. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. A Lance Corporal from 2nd Bn The Parachute Regiment was killed by the blast from an improvised explosive device in the Nahr-e Saraj District on 14 Feb 11. Two Privates from the Royal Logistic Corps died in a fire (which was thought to be accidental) at Camp Bastion on 14 Feb 11. UK deaths since the start of Operations on 7 Oct 01 thus rose to 357, of whom 313 were killed as a result of hostile action. (MoD, 14 Feb 11.)
From 1 Jan 06 to 31 Jan 11, 1,608 personnel were Wounded in Action and 4,275 were aeromedically evacuated. From 16 to 31 Jan 11 the figures were 10 and 50. (DASA, 15 Feb 11.)
The Minister for International Security Strategy, accompanied by the Chief of the Air Staff, visited British troops over the weekend 12/13 Feb 11. (MoD, 14 Feb 11.)
A new 3,500 metre runway has been opened at Camp Bastion. US funded at a cost of $141m (£87m), the two-year project has employed 2,000 local civilians. (RAF, 14 Feb 11.)
The Afghan Air Force achieved 2,000 hours of flight time in the C-27 Spartan transport aircraft. The embryonic Air Force is being trained by a