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18 May 15. Defence Secretary: Priorities. The Defence Secretary said (18 May 15) that he had identified “key priorities” for the coming months:-
*To take a leading role in the Strategic Defence & Security Review.
*To make sure we have the right capabilities to do the job, including the right mix of manpower (Regular, Reserve or Civilian).
*To strengthen international partnerships.
Comment: The Defence Secretary also drew attention to the Equipment Plan and, in particular, “the next generation of Successor submarines”. Expanding on international partnerships, the Defence Secretary emphasised the relationships with the US and with France as well as the UK’s place within NATO and with other European partners. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/21, 25 May 15)
21 May 15. Nuclear Security: Revelations? Throughout the past week there has been considerable media coverage of the submariner who published criticism of the UK?s nuclear deterrent. The RN reiterated that it takes “the operation of our submarines and the safety of our personnel extremely seriously”. The MoD stated (21 May 15) that Ministers would update Parliament about the matter at the earliest opportunity.
Comment: The submariner in question is Able Seaman W McNeilly, who has now surrendered himself
(19 May 15) into RN custody. McNeilly’s lengthy account of his first patrol on HMS VANGUARD condemns the ageing submarine as being dogged by equipment failures. Safety procedures were said to have been regularly disregarded while security measures were casual.
(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/21, 25 May 15)
23 May 15. Iraq: OP SHADER:
• 15 May 15: Reaper destroyed a terrorist position with a Hellfire missile.
• 15 May 15: Tornado GR4s demolished an ISIL-held building near Bayji.
• 17 May 15: Tornado GR4s supported Iraqi troops in the Bayji area.
• 17 May 15: A Reaper continued to support Iraqi forces in Anbar Province.
• 18/19 May 15: Tornado GR4s and Reapers flew overwatch for Kurdish attacks on ISIL.
Reaper had flown 450 missions, conducting 110 successful strikes. Both aircraft are said to “continue to provide vital intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assistance”. (All OP SHADER information from MoD briefs dated 19 May 15.) (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/21, 25 May 15)
21 May 15. Sierra Leone: OP GRITROCK. The MoD reported (21 May 15) that its scientists have been working with Industry and other Government partners to help combat the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has an active research programme on Ebola and has developed expertise in handling and manipulating the virus. Research scientists have been deployed to the diagnostic laboratory at the Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone.
The UN Mission reported (22 May 15) that some 209 Ebola response workers (111 Nigerians and 98 Ethiopians) are about to leave Sierra Leone. These workers, including doctors and nurses, arrived in Sierra Leone in December 2014 as part of an African Union response team.
Comment: The UN Mission reported (22 May 15) that 26,971 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola have been recorded in the three most affected countries (Guinea, Liberia & Sierra Leone). 11,122 deaths have been reported. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/21, 25 May 15)
23 May 15. Armed Forces: Trained Requirements and Strengths. As at 1 Apr 15 the trained (Regular) Armed Forces were under strength by 6,580 (4.4%) against a reduced requirement of 150,690.
TRAINED ARMED FORCES
FULL TIME REQUIREMENTS AND STRENGTHS AS AT 1 APR 15
Requirement(1) Strength(1) Deficit/Surplus
RN/RM Officers 5,950 6,000 +50
RN/RM Other Ranks 24,340