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19 Mar 14. Budget 2014: Defence Aspects. In his Budget Statement (19 Mar 14), the Chancellor of the Exchequer made only a passing reference to the Armed Forces and military charities. Figures released in Budget 2014 (the Red Book) show the MoD Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL), which are also expressed as a percentage of Total Managed Expenditure (TME) in the Table below:-
MoD Budget Allocations
£M Estimate 2013/14 Plan 2014/15 Plan 2015/16

Resource DEL 27,100 25,300 23,600
Capital DEL 7,700 9,000 9,300
Total DEL 34,800 34,300 32,900
% TME 4.9% 4.7% 4.4%
The Budget for 2014/15 includes an estimate of the initial allocation from the Special Reserve for the additional cost of Operations (i.e. Afghanistan). No such allocation has yet been made for 2015/16.
Comment: The decreasing TME percentages in the above Table (and the lack of reference to the Armed Forces in the Chancellor’s speech) reflect the Government’s attitude to Defence. ‘Budget 2014’ is available as HC 1104, with the above figures coming from Tables 2.3 and 2.4. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 14/13, 24 Mar 14)

16 Mar 14. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. UK Forces have now closed or handed over to Afghan Forces all but two of their bases in Helmand Province. From a peak of 137 UK bases, only Camp Bastion and Observation Post Sterga 2 are now under UK control. (MoD, 16 Mar 14.)
The Lessons Exploitation Centre at Warminster co-ordinates ‘feedback’ from all ranks who have recently served in Afghanistan. (MoD, 17 Mar 14.)
A very small proportion of materiel, around one per cent, is being redeployed through the Northern Line of Communication which includes Russia. (Written Answer (WA), 17 Mar 14.)
Significantly reducing opium production in Helmand will require a generation of effort and Afghan will. Helmand remains Afghanistan’s single largest opium-cultivating province. (WA, 19 Mar 14.)
The Foreign Secretary announced plans to gift six logistical support bridges and one spares pack to the
Helmand Department for Public Works. (Written Statement (WS), 20 Mar 14.)
The Foreign Secretary announced that 20 Mar 14 was the final working day for the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team, as requested by President Karzai. (WS, 20 Mar 14.)
The only known incident in over 57,000 hours of UK Reaper operations that resulted in the death of civilians occurred on 25 Mar 11. In that incident, four civilians died as well as two insurgents. (WA, 20 Mar 14.)
Recently established in the United Arab Emirates, 906 Expeditionary Air Wing’s tasks include the provision of support to air transport links between the UK and Afghanistan. (MoD, 21 Mar 14.)
Comment: An interesting example of how the Department for International Development (DfID) wastes money can be found in Hansard for 18 Mar 14, in the Westminster Hall debate on the ‘Bost Project (Afghanistan).’ The Bost airfield and agricultural business park were approved as part of the development plan for Helmand but the record does not reflect well on those involved. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 14/13, 24 Mar 14)

21 Mar 14. Missing Aircraft: HMS ECHO to Assist. An MoD spokeswoman confirmed (21 Mar 14) that HMS ECHO has been offered to the Malaysian authorities in order to assist in the search for Flight MH370. The aircraft vanished on 8 Mar 14, while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
Comment: The Australian Department of Defence has acknowledged that a sea and air convoy from 12 countries is searching the southern corridor which the missing aircraft could have tak

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