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15 Mar 12. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. From 1 Jan 06 to 29 Feb 12, 1,875 personnel were Wounded in Action and 5,536 were aeromedically evacuated. (DASA, 15 Mar 12.) From 16 to 29 Feb 12 the figures were one and 49.
In their final week Tornado GR4 of 12 (B) Squadron, operating from Kandahar, continued to support ground forces. Reconnaissance missions employing RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for Tornado) provided essential data to support ground commanders. (RAF Ops Update, 10 Mar 12.)
In a newspaper article the Chief of the General Staff said that, despite recent losses, the commitment to the mission in Afghanistan “is as strong as ever”. (MoD, 12 Mar 12.)
The Government’s policy is not to organise or host visits for bereaved families to Afghanistan. However, “the feasibility of organised visits is kept under review.” (Written Answer, 14 Mar 12.)
During his visit to the US, the Prime Minister held a joint press conference (14 Mar 12) with the US President. The two leaders spoke about plans for the next phases of ‘transition’ in Afghanistan as well as further co-operation between the US and UK Armed Forces. (MoD, 15 Mar 12.)
British troops have been training female Officers of the Afghan National Police in improvised explosive device (IED) awareness. The Officers then deliver lessons on the dangers of IED to Lashkar Gah girls’ schools.
(Media Ops, 16 Mar 12.)
The Commanding Officer of 5th Bn The Rifles said that 54 Territorial Army Riflemen had “integrated seamlessly” into his Battlegroup. (Media Ops, 17 Mar 12.)
Comment: In response to an ‘Urgent Question’, the House of Commons debated the killing of civilians in Afghanistan which took place on 11 Mar 12. (‘Hansard’, 12 Mar 12, Column 23.) The Armed Forces’ Minister deputised for the Defence Secretary, who was overseas on official business. As the Minister said: “There have been a difficult few weeks in Afghanistan, with the Koran-burning, the tragic loss of six of our own soldiers in a Warrior and now this.”. There were other recent ‘incidents’ which the Minister chose not to mention but which have been singularly unhelpful. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 12/12, 19 Mar 12)

14 Mar 12. Falkland Islands: “No Credible Threat”. The Armed Forces’ Minister said (14 Mar 12) that: “The Commander of British Forces in the Falkland Islands is confident that he has the resources to defend the Islands against any attack. But it should be noted there is no credible threat against the Islands”. The Minister anticipated that the costs of support to the Islands would be: 2011/12 – £64m; 2012/13 – £61m; 2013/14 – £63m and 2014/15 – £65m.
Comment: The Minister was responding to a question from a former Labour Cabinet Minister, Mr Jim Murphy. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 12/12, 19 Mar 12)

12 Mar 12. The U.K. Ministry of Defence will consult with industry on two options being considered as part of a shake up to the procurement organization. The MoD notified defense contractors late last week that they are to canvas industry views over the next month on two of the three options being considered to radically restructure the way the Defence Equipment & Support organization (DE&S) manages its £13bn ($20.4bn) annual procurement operation. The move comes nearly three months after the recommendations landed on the desk of Defence Secretary Philip Hammond. The consultation, what the MoD calls “soft market testing,” will focus on the two options that include private sector involvement, leaving out a third option that would keep DE&S within the department without the private sector being involved. DE&S boss Bernard Gray has been leading work on the program, known as the Defence Materiel Strategy, since mid-2011 as part of a wide-ranging restructuring of the MoD. The materiel strategy is aimed at

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