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27 May 15. HM The Queen’s Speech: Defence Aspects. As is customary, HM The Queen outlined the Government’s programme when she opened the new Session of Parliament (27 May 15). Points from the Speech included:-
• The Government will continue to play a leading role in global affairs.
• Ministers will remain at the forefront of the NATO alliance.
• The UK will continue to seek a political settlement in Syria and will offer further support to the Iraqi Government.
• The Government will maintain pressure on Russia to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine.
• The Government looks forward to an enhanced partnership with China and India.
• The Government will undertake a full strategic Defence and Security Review.
• The Government will work to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons, cyber attacks and terrorism. HM The Queen also said that she and Prince Phillip looked forward to the State Visits to Germany in June and to Malta in November. Her Majesty and Prince Phillip also looked forward to welcoming HE The President of The People’s Republic of China and Madame Peng during a State Visit in October.
Comment: The House of Commons will continue to debate aspects of the Loyal Address, as follows: Mon 1 Jun 15 – Britain in the world; Tue 2 Jun – Health & social care; Wed 3 Jun – Devolution and growth across Britain and Thu 4 Jun – The economy.
According to the MoD (28 May 15), the Strategic Defence and Security Review “will ensure Britain remains a major player on the world stage, using diplomacy to protect our interests, uphold British values and tackle threats to our security and prosperity”. There has been some media speculation that the Review will be published in October/November 2015.
In response to media comments concerning possible cuts in Defence spending, an MoD Spokesperson reiterated (30 May 15): “The Ministry of Defence continuously looks for ways to be more efficient and is on track to deliver over £5 billion of savings since 2010. In the context of the Spending Review and SDSR we are looking at where further efficiencies could be delivered. We are confident that we will spend 2% of GDP on Defence in this financial year. The Prime Minister has also made clear that there will be an annual 1% real terms increase in spending on Defence equipment throughout this Parliament.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/22, 01 Jun 15)
29 May 15. Iraq: OP SHADER.
• 20 May 15: Tornado GR4s struck a weapons store.
• 21 May 15: Tornado GR4s destroyed an ISIL heavy weapons position.
• 21 May 15: Reapers continue to provide overwatch.
• 22 May 15: Reaper successfully engaged terrorists.
• 24 May 15: Reaper destroyed an ISIL armoured vehicle.
• 27 May 15: Reapers successfully engaged terrorists and destroyed a stockpile of explosives.
• 27 May 15: Tornado GR4s flew in support of Kurdish attacks on terrorists.
In addition to targeted air strikes, daily missions by Tornados and Reapers provide exclusive and valuable reconnaissance information, alongside the dedicated surveillance aircraft (Rivet Joint, Sentinel and Sentry).
Comment: British military instructors reportedly “continue to play a key role in the coalition’s training programme to help the Iraqi Forces improve their capabilities”. Nearly 800 personnel are deployed in the region and the MoD states that it will continue to keep this contribution under regular review. (All OP SHADER information from MoD briefs dated 26, 29 and 30 May 15.) (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/22, 01 Jun 15)
29 May 15. Sierra Leone: OP GRITROCK. The MoD continues to support the Department for International Development’s (DfID) £427m response to the crisis in Sierra Leone. On the anniversary of the fi