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29 Sep 13. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. British troops have handed over control of Patrol Base Ouellette to the Afghan National Civil Order Police. Base reductions are expected to leave only four forward bases in Central Helmand, in addition to Camp Bastion, by 31 Oct 13. (Task Force Helmand, 29 Sep 13.)
903 Expeditionary Air Wing supported the Relief in Place at Camp Bastion as OP HERRICK 19 units arrived to take over from their OP HERRICK 18 counterparts. (RAF, 1 Oct 13.)
617 Squadron RAF is moving to Afghanistan for its final tour with the Tornado GR4. (RAF, 4 Oct 13.)
Comment: Following its four-month deployment, 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) is to disband but will form again in 2016 with the F-35 Lightning. The Squadron is to operate from RAF Marham, alongside RN personnel, as the first front line unit to operate the F-35. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/39, 07 Oct 13)

30 Sep 13. Syria: New Team of Inspectors Arrives. The team of chemical weapons investigators left Syria after completing its six-day mission. The team is working to complete its report by 31 Oct 13. (UN Briefing, 30 Sep 13.) An advance team from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Damascus. The team includes 14 UN staff members and 19 OPCW inspectors. (UN Briefing, 1 Oct 13.)
Chemical weapons inspectors from the UN and the OPCW aim to rid Syria of its chemical weapons programme “by the middle of next year”. (UN Briefing, 2 Oct 13.)
The UN Security Council urged all sides in the Syrian crisis to provide access immediately for humanitarian aid. (UN website, 2 Oct 13.)
The joint UN/OPCW team made encouraging initial progress. (UN Briefing, 3 Oct 13.)
The Director-General of the OPCW is expected to provide an „update. to Member States on 8 Oct 13. (UN Briefing, 4 Oct 13.)
Comment: The Prime Minister and the International Development Secretary responded (2 Oct 13) to the UN Security Council statement on humanitarian access in Syria. The Prime Minister called on the Syrian regime to provide easier access for aid workers, concluding that “this must now be delivered”. The Prime Minister’s dramatic declaration rather begs the question…(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/39, 07 Oct 13)

04 Oct 13. The Gambia: Withdrawal from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Secretary-General said (4 Oct 13) that he had “received with regret” a decision taken by the Government of the Republic of The Gambia to withdraw from the Commonwealth with effect from 3 Oct 13. Separation from the people of The Gambia was said to be “a disappointment to the Commonwealth family at large.” The Secretary General looked forward to The Gambia’s return to the Commonwealth.
Comment: With a population of under two million, The Gambia became an independent member of the Commonwealth on 18 Feb 65 and an independent republic on 24 Apr 70. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/39, 07 Oct 13)

29 Sep 13. Cyber Security: Strike Capability. The Defence Secretary announced (29 Sep 13) that, in response to the growing cyber threat, “Britain will build a dedicated capability to counter-attack in cyber-space and, if necessary, to strike in cyber-space as part of our full-spectrum military capability.” A Joint Cyber Reserve unit is being established to support regular Joint Cyber Units based at Corsham and Cheltenham as well as other Information Assurance units. Recruitment for the Joint Cyber Unit (Reserve) starts in October 2013 and the MoD hopes to attract individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills (with or without military experience).
Comment: The Defence Secretary’s announcement raised a few eyebrows, particularly since it was made during his speech at the Conservative Party Conference (29 Sep to 2 Oct 13)

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