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02 Jan 12. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. A Rifleman (i.e. Private) from 1st Bn The Royal Gurkha Rifles died on 2 Jan 12 from wounds sustained by an improvised explosive device on 24 Jun 10. UK deaths since the start of Operations on 7 Oct 01 thus rose to 395, of whom 351 were killed due to hostile action. (MoD, 2 Jan 12.)
The 39 Squadron Reaper detachment, operating from Kandahar Airfield, flew more than 1,200 missions over Afghanistan during 2011. As well as kinetic strikes, Reaper delivered over 11,000 hours of full motion video. (RAF Ops, 31 Dec 11.)
Soldiers from 5th Bn The Rifles and the Afghan National Security Forces have been taking the fight to insurgents in the south of the Nahr-e Saraj District. A senior Taliban commander was killed by a Hellfire missile fired from an Apache helicopter. (MoD, 5 Jan 12.)
Comment: Relations between Islamabad and Washington DC continued to be ‘frosty’ following the US attack on two Pakistan outposts on 26 Nov 11. 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed and a further 13 injured in the attack. The port of Karachi was closed in retaliation, with the result that 3,676 military vehicles and 1,732 NATO containers could get no further (as at 31 Dec 11). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 12/02, 09 Jan 12)
05 Jan 12. Libya: After OP ELLAMY (19 Mar – 31 Oct 11). At its peak the UK had around 4,000 personnel, 37 aircraft and four ships committed to the Operation. Over 3,000 sorties were flown of which about 2,100 were ‘strike’ sorties engaging some 640 targets. (MoD, 5 Jan 12.)
Comment: The five page summary of OP ELLAMY produced by the MoD on 5 Jan 12 failed to mention the involvement of two submarines (HMS TRIUMPH & TURBULENCE). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 12/02, 09 Jan 12)
08 Jan 12. An independent Scotland committed to banishing nuclear warheads from Faslane would impose disarmament on the whole of the UK, a leading defence expert declared. In an article for Scotland on Sunday, William Walker, professor of international relations at St Andrews University, says the SNP policy of removing Trident from Scotland after independence would “amount to a promise to shut down the UK’s nuclear deterrent and enforce its disarmament”. As a result, an independent Scots government might have to compromise on removing the weapons or leave the UK without a nuclear shield. This is because nowhere else in the UK is suitable to house both the submarines and missiles at a realistic cost, he says.
Currently, the naval base at Faslane provides a home for Britain’s four Trident submarines – the UK’s sole nuclear deterrent – while Coulport on Loch Long is home to their warheads and missiles. SNP policy, come independence, is to remove the weapons from Scottish territory, saying it does not want Scotland to be home to such weapons of mass destruction. SNP figures have asserted that the submarines and the warheads could be housed elsewhere in the UK. But Walker warns that this is fraught with difficulties. He argues that a newly independent Scotland would face several diplomatic and practical obstacles in getting rid of the weapons and that SNP leaders “know that compromise may be forced on them”.
However, he also says the SNP’s position could help to form an anti-Trident coalition in the UK as a whole if both Labour and the Lib Dems also come out to oppose the vast cost of replacing the weapons system over the next few years. Some senior figures in the military would also “say good riddance” to Trident, he adds. (Source: The Scotsman)
05 Jan 12. Just before the Pentagon unveiled a new military strategy that emphasizes a shift in focus toward the Asia-Pacific region, Britain’s Defense Secretary Phillip Hammond urged