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03 Feb 13. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. The Prime Minister hosted a Summit at Chequers (3/4 Feb 13), attended by the Presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The leaders “noted significant progress since they last met in September 2012….” (No. 10, 4 Feb 13.)
Redeployment of equipment from Afghanistan began in earnest and as planned on 1 Oct 12. Other than a commitment to lead the contribution to the Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul, no final decision has yet been made on the UK’s post-2014 presence in Afghanistan. (Written Answer (WA), 4 Feb 13.)
Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Air Vehicles are being used on OP HERRICK. 160 Black Hornets, each weighing only 16 grams, have been developed under a £20m contract. (MoD, 4 Feb 13.)
The Prime Minister welcomed the US Vice President to 10 Downing Street, where the two were said to have had “a detailed discussion on Afghanistan and its region”. (No. 10, 5 Feb 13.)
Very low-level Pashto or Dari are taught compulsorily to all members of the Armed Forces during
pre-deployment training for OP HERRICK. (WA, 5 Feb 13.)
The Immediate Replenishment Group operates out of Main Operating Base Price and deploys on a daily basis to deliver stores, equipment and personnel to patrol bases across Afghanistan. (MoD, 6 Feb 13.)
The Defence Secretary visited troops in Helmand as part of a two day trip to Afghanistan, observing that “transition is proceeding very well”. (MoD, 7 Feb 13.)
“Value for money, operational priority and security are all taken into consideration when deciding on the most appropriate transit route for redeployment of equipment.” (WA, 7 Feb 13.)
Bastion Force Protection Wing provides a range of vital force protection measures to Camp Bastion. (RAF Ops Update, 8 Feb 13.)
Comment: The International Herald Tribune (4 Feb 13) included an interesting article suggesting that Uzbekistan is seeking an ‘arrangement’ with NATO. In return for the use of roads out of Afghanistan, the Uzbeks would accept military vehicles and supplies!

04 Feb 13. Mali: OP NEWCOMBE. RAF C-17 aircraft have been flying daily missions from France to West Africa transporting vehicles and equipment. (RAF website, 4 Feb 13.)
The UK is supporting French Operations in Mali with one C-17, for which the additional cost per week is approximately £1m. There are currently no UK unmanned aircraft systems operational in Mali. (WA, 4 Feb 13.)
There are no plans for any UK troops to be deployed in a combat role in Mali. (FCO, 5 Feb 13.)
The UK is offering up to 40 military personnel for the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali), primarily in a training role. (WA, 5 Feb 13.)
There are currently around 20 UK personnel deployed in Bamako as part of a tri-Service team supporting Operations. The UK has not charged France for our contribution to Operations in Mali. (WA, 6 Feb 13.)
The EUTM Mali has a proposed mandate of 15 months from mission launch (not before 12 Feb 13). There are currently around 30 people in France supporting the C-17 deployment. (WA, 7 Feb 13.)
Comment: ‘The Economist’ (9 Feb 13) includes a comprehensive essay on the situation in Mali, concluding that: “The French may have to stay a bit longer than they wish.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/07, 11 Feb 13)

07 Feb 13. International Defence Engagement: New Strategy. The Government published (7 Feb 13) a new strategy “outlining how International Defence Engagement will be better focussed towards contributing to wider Government objectives”. The strategy includes four aspects: Defence diplomacy; Support to Operations; Exports and Building stability.
Early examples of the new strategy are:-
* Burma: establishing a new Defence Section/Defence Attaché in the Embass

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