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06 Mar 12. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. Six soldiers, a Sergeant from 1st Bn The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and a Corporal and four Privates from 3rd Bn The Yorkshire Regiment were missing, believed killed, on 6 Mar 12. Their Warrior vehicle was struck by an explosion in the Task Force Helmand Area. UK deaths since the start of Operations on 7 Oct 01 are thus assumed to have risen to 404, of whom 364 were killed due to hostile action. (MoD, 6 Mar 12.)
Tornado GR4 from 12 (B) Squadron continued to operate in support of ground forces. The 39 Squadron Reaper detachment continued to provide imagery and intelligence crucial to ground commanders. Sentinel R1 aircraft of V (AC) Squadron watched ground activity and reported movements. (RAF Ops Update, 3 Mar 12.)
The Tongan Prime Minister visited Tongan troops working with the RAF in Helmand. 55 personnel from the Tonga Defence Services serve alongside members of the RAF Regiment and the RAF Police. (RAF, 5 Mar 12.)
The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that, as at January 2012, there were 447,524 internally displaced people in Afghanistan. (Written Answer (WA), 7 Mar 12.)
Reaper unmanned aircraft completed 30,000 flying hours in Afghanistan. RAF personnel work alongside the US Air Force 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron. (RAF News, 9 Mar 12.)
The Defence Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Staff visited troops from 12 Mechanized Brigade as they prepared for OP HERRICK 16 (April – October 2012) on Salisbury Plain. (MoD, 9 Mar 12.)
Comment: Following the Warrior vehicle explosion on 6 Mar 12, the Defence Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Staff issued explanatory statements (on 7 Mar 12 and in more detail on 8 Mar 12). There was also discussion in the House of Commons on 7 Mar 12, led by the Prime Minister (Hansard, Column 837 et seq). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 12/11, 12 Mar 12)
05 Mar 12. France and Germany put a priority on maintaining arms deals after the 2008 financial crisis, rather than see Greece cut spending that would hit their defense companies, European member of parliament Daniel Cohn-Bendit said March 5. Cohn-Bendit, nicknamed Dany the Red for playing a leading role in the 1968 student protests in the streets of the French capital, said former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou told him that Berlin and Paris had not wanted Athens to slash military spending, as that would hurt French and German industry.
“It’s very difficult because our partners don’t want an immediate and radical cut if it has an impact on agreements between Greece and industry. At the time, it was for German submarines and French helicopters,” Cohn-Bendit told a meeting of the Anglo-American Press Association, recounting a conversation he had with Papandreou in a large hotel lobby when he visited Athens after the 2008 financial crisis. Papandreou had been replying to Cohn-Bendit’s call in the European Parliament for cuts in Greek military spending to balance the budget, the French politician said.
“If you really want to balance the budget in Greece, you have to attack the military budget,” Cohn-Bendit said.
Greece then spent 4 percent of its gross domestic product on the military, double the 2 percent or so of France and Germany, he said.
Papandreou went on to make some defense cuts when he was elected in 2009. The French and German leaders also insisted that Greece would use part of a first tranche of financial aid from the European Union to honor the arms contracts, Cohn-Bendit said. The EU aid was intended to stave off a national debt default. (Source: Defense News)
09 Mar 12. Congressman and 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul issued the following statement in response to comments by Obama Defense Secretary Leon Panetta regarding military options in