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19 May 12. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. The 39 Squadron Reaper detachment delivered some 260 hours of full motion video during the previous week. Sentinel R1 aircraft of 5 Squadron provided about 70 hours of reconnaissance and analysis during the week.
Tornados of 617 Squadron provided useful intelligence for ground Forces. (RAF Ops Update, 19 May 12.)
Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are expected to reach a full surge strength of 352,000 ahead of the October 2012 deadline. In future it is envisaged that the ANSF will eventually reduce to 228,500 with an estimated annual budget of $4,100m. The Afghan Government is set to assume full financial responsibility for security Forces “no later than 2024”. (NATO Summit, 21 May 12.)
The Foreign Secretary presented his Monthly Progress Report on Afghanistan for April 2012 to the House of Commons. The Report reflects the combined assessment of the FCO, the MoD and the DfID (Department for International Development). (Written Statement, 24 May 12.)
Comment: Against the background of the NATO Summit (Chicago, 20/21 May 12), there was some media speculation that UK Special Forces would remain in Afghanistan after the main withdrawal in 2014. Such stories should be treated as the product of journalistic imagination.
(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 12/21, 28 May 12)

24 May 12. Iraq and Afghanistan: Casualty Figures. The Personnel Minister confirmed (24 May 12) the casualty figures for very seriously injured (VSI) and seriously injured (SI) casualties during recent Operations. In Iraq (1 Jan 03 – 31 Jul 09) there were 73 VSI and 149 SI casualties while Field Hospital admissions (from 1 Mar 06) included 315 wounded in action and 3,283 non-battle cases. In Afghanistan (7 Oct 01 – 30 Apr 12) there were 279 VSI and 283 SI casualties and Field Hospital admissions (from 1 Mar 06) included 1,894 wounded in action and 3,883 non-battle cases.
Comment: Those listed as VSI or SI may also be counted in the Field Hospital admissions. Fatalities (from Afghanistan) are regularly reported in DNA as they occur.
(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 12/21, 28 May 12)

21 May 12. NATO Summit: Defence Capabilities. NATO leaders concluded a “decisive” summit in Chicago on 21 May 12, taking key decisions on the Alliance’s future engagement in Afghanistan, military capabilities and worldwide partnership. Smart Defence is described as being “at the heart” of a new approach towards establishing NATO Forces 2020, with the goal of achieving Forces that “can operate together and with partners in any environment”.
Procurement of the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned air system was confirmed (20 May 12), to meet a NATO Air Ground Surveillance System (AGS) requirement. AGS will be the major data source for NATO’s Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance system and is due to be fully operational by 2017.
The Alliance also declared the establishment of an interim NATO missile defence system with the aim of achieving full operational capability “around the end of the current decade or early next decade”. The system includes a basic command and control centre at HQ Allied Air Command in Ramstein.
Comment: The UK is not party to the Global Hawk procurement but is required to contribute to a NATO AGS capability in ‘cash or kind’. The UK’s Sentinel R1 Airborne Stand-Off Radar System (ASTOR), due to be retired after the completion of Operations in Afghanistan, could be reprieved in order to fulfil the commitment.
It was agreed in November 2010 to develop a NATO ballistic missile defence capability. In March 2011 programme costs were “estimated to be between €864-928 million over 10 years”. The UK contributes 11.5% to the N

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