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19 Aug 13. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. While UK Forces now spend less time operating in a combat role, “we continue to maintain sufficient military
capabilities to use combat force as and when conditions require it until the end of next year”. (MoD, 19 Aug 13.)
Task Force Helmand Headquarters moved from Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion on 9 Aug 13. The Headquarters has been based in Lashkar Gah since May 2006. (MoD, 19 Aug 13.)
Sappers from 22 Engineer Regiment repaired a key bridge in the Lashkar Gah District, linking two local communities. (MoD, 19 Aug 13.)
7th Armoured Brigade held a Media Day on Salisbury Plain on 29 Aug 13. The Brigade is to take over as
Task Force Helmand in October 2013, at the start of OP HERRICK 19. Part of the Brigade’s role will be to close down Forward Operating and Patrol Bases and to supervise the return of equipment to Germany and to the UK.
(MoD, 30 Aug 13.)
Comment: In a Written Answer (29 Aug 13) the Personnel Minister said that, as at 31 Mar 13, 6,200 ex-Service personnel were in receipt of a war pension for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 185 personnel have been awarded compensation as a result of a post-Service claim for PTSD under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. On 29 Aug 13 the MoD confirmed that the UK has approximately 7,900 Service personnel in Afghanistan and that the number is to reduce to 5,200 by the end of 2013. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/34, 02 Sep 13)
29 Aug 13. Syria: Use of Chemical Weapons. Parliament was recalled for the day on 29 Aug 13, when the House of Commons debated the motion: “That this House deplores the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August 2013 by the Assad regime, which caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries” (followed by nine ancillary clauses). After nearly eight hours of debate, the House divided with 272 voting for the motion and 285 voting against. The motion was therefore lost (by 13 votes). The Prime Minister spoke to the US President by phone (30 Aug 13) confirming that the Government had accepted “the clear view of the House against British military action”.
Comment: Both before and after the recall of Parliament, an awful lot of nonsense was published by the media. The UK’s ‘special relationship’ with the US has been placed under far more strain in the past: not least over the war in Vietnam. As with Vietnam, the UK will doubtless continue to support the US in many covert ways. Given the House of Commons voting figures (above), it may be useful to recall the State of the Parties: Conservative – 304; Labour – 257; Liberal Democrat – 55; Democratic Unionist – 8; Scottish National – 6; The Speaker – 1; Remainder – 19. (Total 650.) The figures leave a number of Members, including Ministers, unaccounted for: doubtless retribution will follow (!). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/34, 02 Sep 13)
28 Aug 13. Gibraltar: Chief Minister’s Visit. The Foreign Secretary welcomed the Chief Minister of Gibraltar to London on 28 Aug 13. As well as reaffirming the strong bonds between the UK and Gibraltar, the Chief Minister’s visit “provided an opportunity for a series of detailed meetings on issues including the unacceptable delays at the Spanish/Gibraltar border”.
Comment: In a continuation of the spat. over Gibraltar, Spain is reportedly (31 Aug 13) taking steps to outlaw the refuelling of ships at sea in the waters surrounding Gibraltar. Such a move could deprive the British territory of one of its most important economic activities.
(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/34, 02 Sep 13)
30 Aug 13. Biological Security: Proposals Sought. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) advised (30 Aug 13) tha