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14 Feb 13. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. From 1 Jan 06 to 31 Jan 13, 2,087 personnel were Wounded in Action and 6,500 were aeromedically evacuated. (DASA, 14 Feb 13.) For January 2013 the figures were 11 and 60.
The next roulement of UK Forces (OP HERRICK 18) is due to take place in April 2013. Around half of the nominated units will form Task Force Helmand under command 1 Mechanized Brigade. Force levels in Afghanistan will draw down from 9,000 to around 5,200 by the end of 2013. (Written Statement (WS), 12 Feb 13, which includes a list of units deploying.)
The Defence Secretary welcomed the US President’s announcement that his Country’s troop numbers in Afghanistan are to be reduced by 34,000 within a year. (MoD, 13 Feb 13.)
The Defence Secretary announced transit plans through Uzbekistan, as part of the recovery of some £4,000m worth of equipment. The arrangements include the gifting of Leyland DAF trucks and Land Rover spares to Uzbekistan. (WS, 13 Feb 13.)
Comment: Personnel from 40 Commando, Royal Marines, started to return to the UK. So far during
OP HERRICK 17, which started on 1 Oct 12, 18 bases have been closed or transferred to the Afghan National Security Forces. (RN News Release, 14 Feb 13.)
During an OP HERRICK 18 pre-deployment ‘media day’ on Salisbury Plain (13 Feb 13), the Commanding Officer of 4 RIFLES, noted that: “The comedy of training on Salisbury Plain, in what appears now to be the snow, for a Summer tour in Afghanistan is lost on neither me or the soldiers…”!

11 Feb 13. Mali: OP NEWCOMBE. Cost estimates for the UK’s support in Mali are currently being compiled and will be available in due course. Discussions are taking place with other Government Departments to determine the most appropriate source of funding for the Operation. (Written Answer (WA), 11 Feb 13.)
In addition to UK logistical and intelligence-sharing support, French and Malian Forces have receivedlogistical assistance from Denmark and Belgium. Planning for the EU Training Mission to Mali is currently taking place. (WA, 11 Feb 13.)
The Foreign Secretary outlined events in Mali and in the wider Sahel region. The UK is currently providing one C-17 aircraft in support of French and African Operations. In addition, a Sentinel R1 flew to West Africa on 25 Jan 13 and around 70 technical personnel have deployed to Dakar. The UK has also offered up to 40 military personnel to take part in the planned EU Training Mission. (WS, 13 Feb 13.)
An RAF C-17 flew 120 members of Ghana’s Engineering Company 1 and their equipment from Ghana to Bamako. The soldiers are part of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali. (MoD, 14 Feb13.)
Comment: ‘RAF News’ (15 Feb 13) includes comprehensive coverage of OP NEWCOMBE. A 99 Squadron C-17 “goes into both Afghanistan and Mali every day in addition to supporting ‘medevac’ and other short-notice taskings”. The Sentinel is also praised as “the only aircraft in Europe able to provide wide area surveillance and target acquisition”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/08, 18 Feb 13)

18 Feb 13. Tactical Communications: Falcon Arrives. Desider (February 2013) confirmed that “dedicated, secure broadband communications” are expected to be with all military units by the Summer. Falcon is “a deployable broadband-based system that allows secure and resilient transmission of data and voice”, replacing technologically limited systems such as Cormorant and Ptarmigan.
Comment: The article in ‘Desider’ also mentioned that Falcon has slipped by over a year, which means that the system cannot be deployed on OP HERRICK. The version of Falcon designed for Afghanistan cost an additional £32m: a situation described by the Public Accounts Committee as “particularly shocking”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS

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