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18 Feb 13. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. Serviceability on the Hercules detachments has been excellent, which has enabled the aircraft to maintain its vital air transport support to Coalition Forces. Tornados from IX (Bomber) Squadron provided a number of shows of force and shows of presence in support of Coalition Forces. The Sentinel of 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron provided hours of vital surveillance and analysis. (RAF Ops Update, 18 Feb 13.)
The first 27 Reconnaissance Troops for the Afghan National Army have passed out of training at their base in Nahr-e Saraj. The training was carried out by members of 40 Commando, Royal Marines. (RN, 18 Feb 13.)
Soldiers from 1st Bn The Royal Gurkha Rifles returned to Folkestone, weeks before their original end of tour date, after handing over to Afghan National Security Forces. (MoD, 20 Feb 13.)
IX (Bomber) Squadron completed a number of RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for Tornado) sorties, collecting images of thousands of points of interest. The TriStar of 216 Squadron delivered over 130 tonnes of fuel to 30 Coalition aircraft during the (9 to 15 Feb 13) period. (RAF Ops Update, 22 Feb 13.)
Afghan National Security Forces’ explosive experts marked the completion of their training with a ceremonyat their base in Nahr-e Saraj. Instructors were provided by 11 EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Regiment. (MoD, 22 Feb 13.)
Comment: The reduction in ISAF numbers is reflected in the most recent figures. US withdrawal has hardly altered the Country’s share of troop contributions, which is now 67.8% (from 69.5%) of the total. Despite media speculation, no firm or final post-2014 numbers have been agreed. The evolving plan calls for foreign troop contingents to operate from a central HQ in Kabul, linked to four sections of the Country.
AFGHANISTAN: INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCE (ISAF)
TROOP CONTRIBUTING NATIONS (TCN) AS AT 19 FEB 13
United States 68,000
United Kingdom 9,000
New Zealand 155
El Salvador 12
Czech Republic 415
Korea (RoK) 350
NATO members are shown in italics.
It should be noted that the above totals are approximations and actual numbers change daily.
(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/09, 25 Feb 13)
18 Feb 13. Mali: OP NEWCOMBE. The Defence Secretary announced (18 Feb 13) that the UK is to contribute 40 people to the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali. The contingent is made up of 21 from 1st Bn The Royal Irish Regiment for Infantry training; 12 to conduct mortar and artillery training; four Headquarters personnel and three civilians in the ‘human rights and gender team’. The Republic of Ireland is providing six