11 Feb 17. Iraq and Syria: OP SHADER. On 2 Feb 17 Tornados demolished a Daesh-held building West of Kirkuk. On the following day Typhoons destroyed an artillery piece in Western Mosul and Tornados sank two vessels on the Tigris. On 5 Feb 17 Typhoons bombed a headquarters and a vehicle shed in Northern Iraq. A Reaper sank a boat carrying a heavy machine-gun team across the Tigris on 7 Feb 17 and, on the next day, Tornados destroyed two Daesh buildings while Typhoons struck terrorists hiding in a tunnel. (MoD, 11 Feb 17.)
Speaking in Iraq, the Defence Secretary confirmed that Operations to liberate Western Mosul are to start “within weeks”. Residents in Eastern Mosul are returning to their houses, with over 29,000 having done so in recent weeks. (MoD, 12 Feb 17.)
With Eastern Mosul liberated by Iraqi Forces, Operations to free the West of the City from Daesh “will start shortly”. (MoD, 16 Feb 17.)
On 11 Feb 17 Typhoons attacked a tunnel and bunker South West of Mosul and, on the following day, Tornados destroyed two terrorist supply trucks North West of Mosul. On 14 Feb 17 Typhoons bombed a Daesh Headquarters in North Western Mosul. (MoD, 16 Feb 17.)
The military air base of Al Asad is home to a coalition of British, Danish, Iraqi and US troops. About 200 of the British soldiers are from 4th Bn The Rifles and they are supported by some 44 Royal Engineers. The role of the troops falls into two categorised: those providing base security and those undertaking training and mentoring under the ‘Building Partnership Capacity’ (BPC) programme. (MoD (Army), 17 Feb 17.)
Comment: The Defence Secretary indicated (12 Feb 17) that the UK is to send an Officer to assist with NATO‟s newly-established training mission in Iraq. The appointment is expected to start in July 2017 and to include expertise in countering improvised explosive devices. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/08, 20 Feb 17)
15 Feb 17. NATO: Defence Ministers Meet. The Defence Ministers met for two days (15/16 Feb 17) in Brussels, focussing on “the Alliance‟s adaptation to a more demanding security environment”. On the first day, Ministers agreed to create a new regional hub for the South, based at NATO‟s Joint Force Command in Naples. Ministers also addressed NATO‟s Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability and agreed to develop a follow-on asset for NATO AWACS aircraft after they retire (in about 2035).
On the second day, Ministers agreed on the next steps to modernise the NATO Command Structure and reviewed progress on the deployment of new “deterrent forces” in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Comment: In advance of the meeting, the US Defense Secretary stated (15 Feb 17): “The Alliance remains a fundamental bedrock for the United States” but went on to add that “it‟s a fair demand that all who benefit from the best defense in the world carry their proportionate share of the necessary cost”. Only five of the 28 NATO members meet the commitment of spending 2% of GDP on Defence: Estonia, Greece, Poland, the UK and the US (and the UK‟s calculation of 2% has been called into question).
17 Feb 17. International Defence Engagement: Strategy Launched. The Defence and Foreign Affairs Secretaries launched (17 Feb 17) an ‘ambitious’framework for the UK‟s defence engagement overseas. ‘Defence engagement’ was identified as a core defence task in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and is being developed so that alliances and partnerships remain central to the UK‟s overseas relations. The framework also aims to strengthen the UK‟s global role and position as a leading soft power.
Comment: ‘UK‟s International Defence Engagement Strategy’ is a joint FCO and MoD publication which can be accessed via the FCO or MoD web pages on the Government hub (www.gov.uk). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/08, 20 Feb 17)
03 Feb 17. Kosovo: Call-out O