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07 Jun 15. Iraq: OP SHADER. The Prime Minister authorised (7 Jun 15) the deployment of up to 125 additional troops to join the counter-ISIL efforts in Iraq, as the Government steps up its efforts to provide training to the Iraqi security forces. The total number of UK personnel providing training support to the Iraqi security forces is over 275.
Further details of MoD assistance to Iraqi forces countering ISIL formed part of ‘Oral Answers’ in the House of Commons on 8 Jun 15.
Tornado GR4 and Reaper aircraft continued to fly intensive armed reconnaissance and close support missions over Western and Northern Iraq. (MoD, 9 Jun 15.)
Comment: The UK is said to be playing a key role with airstrikes and intelligence gathering against ISIL. Some 800 UK personnel are supporting OP SHADER (plus the additional 125 mentioned above). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/24, 15 Jun 15)
11 Jun 15. Sierra Leone: OP GRITROCK. The Prime Minister announced (11 Jun 15) a new medal “to recognise the bravery and hard work of people who have helped to stop the spread of Ebola”. The Ebola Medal for Service in West Africa has a qualifying period of 21 days of continuous service since 23 Mar 14 and can be awarded to various categories of civilians as well as to military personnel. Ebola featured briefly during ‘Oral Answers’ in the House of Commons on 8 Jun 15.
Comment: The UN mission reported (12 Jun 15) that 27,251 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola have been reported in the three most affected countries (Guinea, Liberia & Sierra Leone). 11,163 deaths have been reported. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/24, 15 Jun 15)
11 Jun 15. Afghanistan: OP RESOLUTE SUPPORT. The Armed Forces. Minister said (11 Jun 15) that no decisions have been taken by the Government about a review of the UK’s engagement in Afghanistan. The MoD is concentrating on supporting the National Unity Government of Afghanistan. The MoD’s focus has been on drawdown from the ISAF combat mission and transition to NATO’s OP RESOLUTE SUPPORT. The UK still has some 470 military personnel in Afghanistan.
Comment: ‘Private Eye’ (12 Jun 15) includes an interesting piece about the Afghan opium trade, although the story is somewhat dated. An accompanying photograph appears to show “a group of Afghans harvesting opium under the noses of watching [British] soldiers.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/24, 15 Jun 15)
08 Jun 15. HMS BULWARK: Rescue Work. The MoD reported (8 Jun 15) on the rescue of some 1,200 migrants in nine overcrowded boats off the coast of
Libya; bringing the total number of people rescued by HMS BULWARK to nearly 3,000. In the words of the Defence Secretary: “HMS BULWARK continues to play a vital role saving lives at sea….”
Comment: BULWARK has been working with naval vessels from France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands & Portugal and co-ordinating activities through the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre. A Parliamentary Answer (4 Jun 15) established that there are no additional costs attributable to Defence for the use of BULWARK as these costs are borne by the UK Aid Budget. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/24, 15 Jun 15)
10 Jun 15. Nigeria: Support for the Region. The Prime Minister announced (10 Jun 15) an increase in support for the Nigerian Forces, as part of the UK’s “global commitment to developing security and stability”. In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister outlined plans to deploy more Short Term Training Teams to the region as well as an increase in the number of military personnel based there permanently. The extra military personnel will provide additional support to Nigeria in improving security and c