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31 Dec 12. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. The NATO Secretary General said (31 Dec 12) that he welcomes President Karzai’s announcement of the fourth group of Afghan Provinces, Cities and Districts to undergo transition in the coming months. With this decision the Afghan Security Forces will be taking the lead for security for 87% of the Afghan population and 23 of the 34 Afghan Provinces. When the combat mission is completed at the end of 2014, NATO will remain committed to Afghanistan.
Comment: On 20 Dec 12 the MoD confirmed that the reduction to UK Force Levels announced by the Prime Minister on the previous day is in accordance with the strategy agreed at the 2010 NATO Lisbon Summit and is consistent with the objective to complete the UK’s combat mission by the end of 2014. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/02, 07 Jan 13)
13 Dec 12. Libya: Costs of OP ELLAMY (19 Mar – 31 Oct 11). The Armed Forces’ Minister said (13 Dec 12) that the Treasury Reserve bears all those costs incurred by the MoD which would not otherwise have been incurred if OP ELLAMY had not taken place. This includes: costs of additional fuel and munitions; extra maintenance requirements; spares; the deployment and recovery of equipment and personnel; Operational allowances and theatre-specific training.
Comment: As with all other Operations, the MoD’s core budget meets the cost of basic salaries and the procurement costs of equipment staying with the MoD after the Operation. A Ministerial Answer on 11 Jun 12 estimated the net additional cost of OP ELLAMY as £199m.
(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/02, 07 Jan 13)
02 Jan 13. Syria: Carnage. The UN Human Rights Office announced (2 Jan 13) that 59,648 individuals have been reported killed in Syria between 15 Mar 11 and 30 Nov 12. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that it can be assumed that over 60,000 people had been killed by the start of 2013. The data for these figures were derived from seven different sources.
Comment: Against a background of international hand-wringing, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee wrote to the Foreign Secretary expressing unease about possible UK action in Syria. Concern was expressed about the legal basis for any UK action as well as the need to consult Parliament before any military support is provided to the Syrian opposition. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/02, 07 Jan 13)
11 Dec 12. Gibraltar: Unlawful Incursions. Ministers indicated (11 & 18 Dec 12) that there were 67 recorded instances of unlawful incursions by Spanish State vessels in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) during 2010. There were 23 such incursions during 2011 and 197 in 2012 up to 30 Nov 12. More recently, there were two incursions by a Spanish naval vessel into BGTW on 10 Dec 12. The RN challenges Guardia Civil and other Spanish State vessels whenever they make unlawful maritime incursions into BGTW. All RN ‘challenges’ are subsequently pursued by the FCO through formal diplomatic protests to the Spanish Government.
Comment: The UK remains “confident of UK sovereignty over BGTW under international law”. This position is made clear to the Spanish Government whenever appropriate. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/02, 07 Jan 13)
17 Dec 12. Radio Spectrum: MoD Auction. The Defence Equipment Minister announced (17 Dec 12) that the MoD intends to auction around 200 Megahertz (MHz) of its radio spectrum usage rights. Preparations for the auction are expected to start towards the end of 2013, with the auction completed by Summer 2014. The MoD explained (17 Dec 12) that the term ‘radio spectrum’ refers to the radio waves over which all wireless communication takes place, including radio, television, radar, satellite, mobile voice and data.