01 Oct 15. Iraq: OP SHADER. On 27 & 29 Sep 15 RAF Reaper aircraft conducted successful missions against terrorist positions. On 30 Sep 15 two Tornado GR4, supported by a Voyager refuelling tanker, provided close air support to Kurdish troops advancing west of Kirkuk. (MoD, 1 Oct 15.)
Comment: In addition to the above specific sorties, Tornado and Reaper aircraft have flown daily as part of the coalition air campaign in support of Iraqi units fighting the terrorists. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/39, 05 Oct 15)
28 Sep 15. OP SOPHIA: Rules of Engagement Approved, EU Ambassadors agreed (28 Sep 15) to start the active phase of the Operation against human smugglers on 7 Oct 15 and to rename it OP SOPHIA. The Operation against human smugglers in the Mediterranean will be able to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking.
Comment: EUNAVFOR Med has been renamed ‘Sophia’ after the name given to the baby born during the rescue of her mother on 22 Aug 15 off the coast of Libya. HMS RICHMOND and HMS ENDURANCE are involved in the EU mission. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/39, 05 Oct 15)
28 Sep 15. South Sudan: Peacekeeping. The Prime Minister announced (28 Sep 15) that the UK is to contribute troops to peacekeeping Operations in South Sudan. The Prime Minister made the statement during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, at the same time as confirming support for the African Union in Somalia (see also Item 4). The troops in South Sudan are expected to provide vital engineering work as well as to provide combat training. The number of troops involved is likely to be in the range of 250 to 300.
Comment: Two million people are said to be displaced in South Sudan and a further four million are facing food shortages. The crisis started in December 2013, since when the UK has allocated over £26m to the humanitarian response. (The Republic of South Sudan became an independent sovereign state on 9 Jul 11.) (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/39, 05 Oct 15)
28 Sep 15. Somalia: Support for the African Union. The Prime Minister announced (28 Sep 15) that the UK is to deploy personnel to Somalia “as part of the UN support for the African Union force that is working to build stability in the Country and counter the threat posed by the terrorist group Al-Shabab”. The troops are to provide medical, logistical and engineering support.
Comment: Precise numbers have yet to be agreed but could involve up to 70 personnel deploying to Somalia, although the Prime Minister has insisted that they will not be undertaking combat roles. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/39, 05 Oct 15)
29 Sep 15. Nigeria: Insurgency. A House of Lords Written Answer (29 Sep 15) confirmed that Boko Haram remains a threat to security in North East Nigeria and the wider region. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) estimates that over 20,000 people have been killed, 2,200,000 internally displaced and a further 4,600,000 affected by the insurgency.
Comment: The Armed Forces’ Minister said (14 Jul 15) that the MoD had deployed 16 Short Term Training
Teams to assist the Nigerian Armed Forces. Nine military personnel are permanently deployed in the High Commission while there is also a small team deployed in the international cell in Abuja. A Foreign Office Minister subsequently recorded (20 Jul 15) “increasing UK military assistance to the region.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 15/39, 05 Oct 15)
01 Oct 15. Oman: Port Facilities. Visiting Oman (1 Oct 15), the Defence Secretary unveiled plans to look at developing a British presence at the Omani port of Duqm. The move was said to underline Britain‟s increasing Defence engagement with the Gulf. The Defence Secretary was quoted as saying that the port complex at Duqm is a key strategic location for both the UK and Oman, with areas of mutual benefit for both Countries.