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17 Jan 14. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. 904 Expeditionary Air Wing continued to provide base support at Kandahar to Reaper detachments and to the Tornado GR4 detachment. (RAF, 17 Jan 14.)
Soldiers from 4th Bn The Royal Regiment of Scotland and from the multi-national Manoeuvre Battlegroup provided a protective screen for US Forces as they redeployed. The Manoeuvre Battlegroup includes soldiers from 3rd Bn The Mercian Regiment as well as Danish and Estonian troops. (Media Ops, 27 Jan 14.)
The Islamic Religious Adviser to the Chief of the Defence Staff spent nearly two weeks visiting Afghan and British bases in Kabul and Helmand Province. (Media Ops, 28 Jan 14.)
The Foreign Secretary announced publication of the 33rd progress report on developments in Afghanistan. (Written Statement, 30 Jan 14.)
617 Squadron completed its last flight as a Tornado Squadron over Afghanistan. The Squadron is due to re-form with Lightning II aircraft in 2018. (RAF, 30 Jan 14.)
Since its introduction in 2007 Reaper has flown for 54,000 hours. Originally used for surveillance, the aircraft was fitted with bombs and missiles in 2008. (RAF News, 31 Jan 14.)
Comment: A joint Government document, explaining why the UK went to Afghanistan in 2001 and what has happened subsequently has been published. ‘The UK’s Work in Afghanistan’ is available on the MoD website, via the Government portal (www.gov.uk/mod). A former Officer in The Queen’s Own Hussars, Tom Petch, has made a film about a patrol in Helmand during 2006. ‘The Patrol’ is due for general release on 7 Feb 14. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 14/06, 03 Feb 14)
31 Jan 14. Franco-British Summit: Further Co-operation. The UK Prime Minister and the French President issued a joint communiqué (31 Jan 14) covering co-operation on Defence, nuclear energy and space. Specific Defence initiatives include:-
. A statement of intent on a £120m, two-year future combat air system(FCAS) feasibility phase.
. Technical arrangements for an exchange programme, providing RAF personnel with experience of operating the A400M (ahead of aircraft deliveries to the UK) and French pilots with experience of flying the A330 Voyager aircraft.
. A memorandum of understanding confirming joint orders for a future helicopter-launched, anti-surface guided weapon for the two countries’ navies.
. Agreement on a £10m contract for the development of mine-neutralising underwater vehicles.
. Investment in the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment for the testing of nuclear stockpiles.
In addition the two countries agreed to build on international peacekeeping missions and to continue development of a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force.
Comment: Franco-British Defence co-operation, as set out in the 2010 Lancaster House Treaty, continues to make progress. BAE Systems welcomed the statement on the FCAS, commenting that the company’s Taranis demonstrator programme “will make an important contribution” to the next phase of the joint project. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 14/06, 03 Feb 14)
28 Jan 14. Mali: OP NEWCOMBE. The Chief of the General Staff, accompanied by the head of the French Army, witnessed soldiers (28 Jan 14) from 1st Bn The Rifles delivering infantry training in Mali. The British contingent forms part of the European Union Training Mission, currently responsible for training 145 soldiers from the Malian Army.
Comment: The British-led Training Team is made up of 21 members of 1 RIFLES, together with six French Infantrymen and six from the Irish Army. The Team is based in the Koulikoro Training Centre, some 65km North East of Bamako. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 14/06, 03 Feb 14)
31 Jan 14. South Sudan: Milit