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26 May 13. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. A change-over of soldiers from the Tongan Defence Force was marked with a traditional war dance (or Sipitau).
The Tongan personnel, who work alongside UK forces, provide protection to Camp Bastion. (TFH, 26 May 13.)
Reacting to BBC reports, the MoD said that there is no “secret facility” for Afghan detainees in Camp Bastion. Successive Governments have reported to Parliament on detention operations in Afghanistan. During media interviews, the Defence Secretary described claims that the facility at Camp Bastion was secret as “patently ridiculous”. (MoD, 29 May 13.)
Comment: The Council of the European Union announced (27 May 13) that the EU Police Mission (EUPOL Afghanistan) has been extended until 31 Dec 14. The Mission has some 350 international and 200 local staff, coming from 23 Member States as well as Canada and Croatia. The Head of Mission is a Swedish Police Commissioner. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/22, 03 Jun 13)
27 May 13. Syria: Arms Embargo Ends. The EU nations agreed (27 May 13) to bring the arms embargo on the Syrian Opposition to an end. The
Foreign Secretary summed up the negotiations: “This does not mean that we have made any decision as the United Kingdom to send arms to the National Coalition, but we now have the flexibility to respond in the future if the situation continues to deteriorate and if the Assad regime refuses to negotiate.”.
Comment: The UK and France won the freedom to supply weapons to Syrian rebel groups, despite opposition from most of the remaining EU Foreign Ministers. “Deep divisions” remain about the merits of intervening in a civil war that is said to have claimed 80,000 lives. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/22, 03 Jun 13)
26 May 13. Serbia: Foreign Secretary’s Visit. The Foreign Secretary welcomed (26 May 13) further progress on normalisation of Serbia and Kosovo relations and urged swift implementation of agreements. Following an accord reached in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo on 19 Apr 13 on normalisation of their relations, the two sides have agreed a plan setting out how this will be implemented. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/22, 03 Jun 13)
30 May 13. The Foreign Secretary visited Belgrade (30 May 13) as part of a regional visit, meeting the President of Serbia and other senior Ministers. The UK remains a strong supporter of EU enlargement to include all countries in the Western Balkans.
Comment: The European Council will decide on 28 Jun 13 whether Serbia has met the criteria to receive a start date for accession negotiations. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/22, 03 Jun 13)
24 May 13. Major Projects Authority: Annual Report. The Cabinet Office published (24 May 13) the Annual Report from the Major Projects Authority. 191 Government Major Projects are listed; 35 of which are sponsored by the MoD. RAG (Red, Amber, Green) ratings are used to indicate the viability of individual projects, with the MoD Projects divided between: Red – 3; Amber/Red – 1; Amber – 12; Amber/Green – 4; Green – 7 and ‘Classified’ – 8. A Red classification indicates that “successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable” and means that “the project may need re-scoping and/or its viability reassessed”. The MoD’s ‘Red’ projects are Watchkeeper (unmanned air vehicle); Aircraft carriers (two) and Defence Core Network Services (replacing information and communications systems).
Comment: The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee was not amused by the manner of publication: “One is left wondering why this important information was put out one hour before everyone went home for the
Bank Holiday.”. The Annual Re