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24 Sep 14. Iraq: Parliamentary Condemnation of ISIL. The Speaker agreed (24 Sep 14) to the Prime Minister’s request to recall Parliament on 26 Sep 14. The recall was to debate the UK’s response to a request from the Iraqi Government for air strikes to support Operations against ISIL in Iraq.
The House of Commons debated Iraq: Coalition Against ISIL, noting in particular, “the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq….”. The House voted by 524 to 43 to condemn ISIL, with the caveat that air strikes in Syria would need to be subject to a separate vote in Parliament. A further caveat noted that HM Government
“will not deploy UK troops in ground combat Operations”.
Two Tornado aircraft conducted armed reconnaissance operations over areas of Iraq on 27 Sep 14 but no targets were identified as requiring attack. The aircraft were supported by a Voyager refuelling tanker. RAF transport aircraft have also delivered further supplies to Kurdish authorities. (MoD, 27 Sep 14.)
Comment: Six Tornado GR4 are forward-based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. The UK’s only RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft is currently based in Qatar, for surveillance operations over Iraq.
There are many interpretations of ISIL/ISIS. This publication interprets ISIL as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, being synonymous with ISIS interpreted as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 14/38, 29 Sep 14)
21 Sep 14. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK/OP CATALINA. The Prime Minister and the Secretary-General of NATO issued statements welcoming the signing of an agreement to form a Government of National Unity in Afghanistan. (PM’s Office & NATO, 21 Sep 14.)
The Defence Secretary attended the passing-out parade of the first intake of the Afghan National Army Officer Academy. The 243 graduates had been selected from an initial pool of 10,000 to attend the 42-week course.
The Afghan course is modelled on the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. (MoD, 24 Sep 14.)
RAF C-17s are flying up to 30 sorties a week between Camp Bastion, the Middle East and the UK. Cargo is either flown direct to RAF Brize Norton or to the Gulf for loading onto container vessels. Eight C-17s are currently deployed; each crewed by two pilots, a loadmaster and two engineers. In addition, the C-130 Hercules are undertaking 25 flights each week across Afghanistan. (RAF News, 26 Sep 14.)
The last AWACS aircraft returned to Geilenkirchen, Germany from Mazar-e-Sharif on 25 Sep 14. The AWACS fleet completed 1,240 missions in 12,240 flying hours over Afghanistan. (NATO, 25 Sep 14.)
Comment: The next Afghan President and his Chief Executive (Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah or his nominee) are assuming their appointments on 29 Sep 14. The President will then need to sign a bilateral security agreement allowing US and Coalition Forces to remain in Afghanistan after 31 Dec 14. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 14/38, 29 Sep 14)
23 Sep 14. Sierra Leone: Continuing to Combat Ebola. The FCO announced (23 Sep 14) that British military and humanitarian staff have arrived in Freetown to lead the UK’s £100m mission to contain and control the outbreak of Ebola. Over 40 staff are overseeing the construction of the UK’s medical facility and assisting with the UK’s response.
A Foreign Office Minister confirmed (25 Sep 14) that the UK is funding Ebola treatment in Sierra Leone with $160m. British military engineers and health professionals have started work on a health centre in Freetown. On 24 Sep 14, the World Health Organisation estimated that the total number of Ebola cases in the current outbreak is 6,263 including 2,917 fatalities.
Comment: The Foreign Secretary is to host an international