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21 Aug 15. Iraq: OP SHADER. British Forces have continued to conduct air operations to assist the Iraqi Government in its fight against ISIL (MoD 21 Aug 15):-
• 14 Aug 15: Reaper flew overwatch for Iraqi troops.
• 16 Aug 15: Tornado GR4s destroyed two ISIL vehicles.
• 18 Aug 15: Reaper struck a pick-up truck.
• 19 Aug 15: Reaper destroyed another pick-up truck.
• 19 Aug 15: Tornado GR4 patrol supported Peshmerga in Northern Iraq.
Comment: The MoD’s ‘update’ on Iraq makes the point that much of the Coalition’s strategic surveillance is provided by RAF Rivet Joint and Sentinel aircraft. Another vital RAF function is the delivery, by C-130 aircraft, of the logistic support required by British Liaison Officers and training teams deployed to Iraqi bases. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/34, 24 Aug 15)
23 Aug 15. Iran: Embassy Reopens. The Foreign Office advised that the Foreign Secretary was visiting Tehran (23/24 Aug 15) to re-open the British Embassy. This is the first visit to Iran by a British Foreign Secretary since 2003 and comes four years after the Embassy was closed. A small trade delegation is also travelling to Tehran with the Foreign Secretary in order to discuss possible future trade opportunities.
Iran’s Embassy in London (16 Prince’s Gate, SW7 1PT) is also re-opening on 23 Aug 15.
Comment: On 17 Jun 14 the then Foreign Secretary announced his decision to re-open the Embassy in Tehran once practical arrangements were in place. The period since then has been spent “resolving practical issues”. The trade group includes representatives from: Amec Foster Wheeler, Benoy, British Bankers, Confederation of British Industry, Institute of Directors, Shell Upstream and Weir Group. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/34, 24 Aug 15)
19 Aug 15. Afghanistan: Future for Interpreters. The Armed Forces’ Minister issued (19 Aug 15) a lengthy statement about Afghan Interpreters and this was followed (21 Aug 15) by an explanation of Government policy towards the Interpreters. The Minister explained that the Governments’ financial offer to locally employed civilians includes a generous redundancy package whereas those who fulfil additional criteria may apply for relocation to the UK with their families.
Comment: As at the time of the above statements, 150 of the 500 eligible local staff had already moved to the UK. The total number of Afghans relocated to the UK to date, including families, is 330. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/34, 24 Aug 15)
20 Aug 15. Army Sergeant Major: New Appointment. MoD (Army) confirmed (20 Aug 15) that Sergeant Major G Haughton, Grenadier Guards, has taken up the new role of Army Sergeant Major. Mr Haughton was selected for a Late Entry Commission in 2012 and went on to become the Academy Sergeant Major at the RMA Sandhurst. At the end of his three years as Army Sergeant Major, Mr Haughton is to attend the Intermediate Command and Staff Course in the substantive rank of Major.
Comment: MoD (Army) claims that the new role of Army Sergeant Major “has been created to ensure the Army’s most senior staff understand what life is like for soldiers serving in the British Army”. The appointment appears to be modelled on common practice in the US Armed Forces. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/34, 24 Aug 15)
20 Aug 15. Land Holdings: Figures Released. As at 1 Apr 15, the MoD owned 222,600 hectares of land and foreshore in the UK (both freehold and leasehold) or about 0.9% of the UK land mass. The MoD also held rights over a further 217,000 hectares of the UK land mass. Training areas and ranges occupy 365,000 hectares or 83% of the MoD total.
Comment: ‘UK Land Holdings’ is an annual publication by National Statistics, providing figures on MoD land holdings by