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19 Feb 21. Negotiations on Franco-German fighter jet stuck, security sources say. The negotiations on the next steps in the development of a Franco-German fighter jet are still going on, the government in Berlin said on Friday, while security sources described the talks on Europe’s biggest defence project as stuck.
The battle over the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) with an estimated cost of more than 100bn euros ($120.4bn) has intensified since Spain officially joined the project late last year.
The three countries still disagree over intellectual property rights and workshares, with French company Dassault demanding 50% of the workload, security sources told Reuters on Friday.
The disagreements run so deep, there are considerations by now to build three demonstrators instead of one, further driving up the cost of the project, they said.
The Berlin government refused to give any details on the status of the negotiations after the latest round of talks of the defence ministers of Germany and France on Thursday.
The government was still planning to send the budget proposal for the next tranche of project payments to parliament before general elections in September, a defence ministry spokesman in Berlin said.
On Wednesday, a meeting of defence officials from France, Germany and Spain, as well as Dassault, Airbus and Indra, failed to reach a breakthrough.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron kicked off the ambitious venture in 2017, when the EU was rattled by Britain’s decision to leave the bloc and deeply divided over other issues such as the migrant crisis.
But it has become mired in mistrust and differing visions between Berlin and Paris as well as corporate infighting over workshare, according to insiders.
At the beginning of February, Merkel and Macron failed to settle the issue, leaving open when the next tranche of payments of at least 5bn euros can be released. (Source: Reuters)
19 Feb 21. Austin Says Afghanistan, Iraq, China Among Topics at NATO Meeting. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III briefed Pentagon reporters on the results of NATO’s virtual Defense Ministerial, discussing the decisions to increase NATO support in Iraq and defer a decision about NATO troops in Afghanistan, and summarizing discussions among allies and partners about China.
It was Austin’s first Pentagon briefing since taking office.
The importance of the alliance to American strategy was apparent since Day 1, as Austin’s first call upon entering the Pentagon was to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Austin said the discussions were productive and covered a wide range of NATO concerns. The alliance does face challenges, including a resurgent Russia’s disruptive technologies, climate change, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the persistent threat of terrorism, and an increasingly aggressive China. Exacerbating all of these challenges is the COVID-19 pandemic.
Austin said his first goal in the ministerial was to detail President Joe Biden’s commitment to NATO and underscore that the United States values allies and partners around the world. He emphasized that U.S. foreign policy will be led by diplomats supported by a strong military.
“I also stressed our ironclad commitment to the security guarantee under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty,” he said. “I don’t use that word ‘ironclad’ lightly. Our shared responsibility as allies – our duty – is to protect our populations and our territory. And to meet that duty we require what the secretary general refers to as credible deterrence and defense.”
Doing this requires commitment and funding. Austin was pleased that nine NATO allies now meet or exceed the alliance’s goal of 2% of gross domestic product spent on defense. After years of reductions, the alliance is now in the seventh year of defense spending increases. “Naturally, we want this trend to continue, and we want to see every member of the alliance contribute their fair share,” he said.
The secretary noted that Sweden, Finland and representatives from the European Union joined the talks and were especially helpful on their views about China. “Indeed, I applaud NATO’s work on China, and I made it clear that the United States is committed to defending the international rules-based order, which China has consistently undermined for its own interests,” he said.
He reiterated that the United States sees China as the pacing challenge. “We believe NATO can help us better think through our operating concepts and investment strategies, when it comes to meeting that challenge,” Austin said.
The ministers spent a full day discussing the NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“On Iraq, I reiterated our strong commitment to the defeat of ISIS and to supporting Iraq’s long-term security, stability and prosperity,” he said. “That’s a commitment that I made to my Iraqi counterpart and the Iraqi minister of interior just the other day after last weekend’s deadly rocket attack in Erbil. I also welcomed that expanded NATO mission in Iraq that responds to the desires and aspirations of the Iraqi government.”
In Afghanistan, the secretary walked the allies through U.S. thinking as the Biden administration comes to grips with the reality on the ground. “The bottom line is this: We are committed to a responsible and sustainable end to this war, while preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorist groups that threaten the interest of the United States and our allies,” he said.
Austin said the United States wants to see “a just and durable end” to the long-running conflict.
The administration is conducting an interagency review of the situation in Afghanistan, including all relevant options with full consideration of the consequences of any potential course of action, Austin said.
“We are mindful of the looming deadlines,” he continued. “But we want to do this methodically and deliberately.”
Austin said the Taliban violence is too high and that more progress must be made in Afghan-led negotiations. “I urge all parties to choose the path towards peace,” he said. “The violence must decrease now. I told our allies that no matter what the outcome of our review, the United States will not undertake a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan that puts their forces or the alliance’s reputation at risk.”
No decisions about future force posture have been made, the secretary said. In the meantime, current missions will continue and commanders have the right and the responsibility to defend themselves and their Afghan partners against attack.
Any move ahead will be made after consultations among all those interested parties. “There will be no surprises,” he said. “We will consult each other, consult together, decide together and act together.” (Source: US DoD)
20 Feb 21. Foreign Secretary reaffirms UK’s solidarity with Ukraine on seventh anniversary of illegal annexation of Crimea.
The UK will remain at the forefront of international efforts to end Russia’s illegitimate control of the Crimean peninsula.
- UK announces new project to improve lives of Ukrainians living in Crimea
- UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission has received nearly £700,000 from the UK over the last year for vital work monitoring and exposing human rights abuses committed by Russia in Crimea
The UK has reaffirmed its unwavering support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and its support for Ukrainians whose lives have been impacted by Russian aggression, seven years after Russia illegally annexed Crimea and began its ongoing campaign to militarise the peninsula.
To mark the seventh anniversary of the illegal annexation, the UK is announcing funding for a new project to improve access to vital services for Ukrainians living in Crimea. The UK will contribute £168,000 to this project, which will support the local authorities in the neighbouring Kherson region to help those who are struggling to visit hospitals or apply for Ukrainian passports.
The UK also welcomes the new International Crimean Platform which will bring together the international community to support the return of Crimea to Ukraine.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “The UK stands with Ukraine against the illegal annexation of Crimea and we will continue supporting those whose lives have been impacted by Russia’s illegitimate aggression. Russia is trying to cover up its human rights abuses by preventing access to Crimea for international monitors. But we will work closely with the UN and international partners to ensure Russia is held to account.”
The UK calls on Russia to immediately release all Ukrainian political prisoners held in Crimea and Russia – currently known to be over 100 - who are often kept in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions and refused access to proper medical treatment.
The UK has contributed nearly £700,000 to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission which monitors and documents human rights abuses on the peninsula, while also providing human rights expertise to promote the right to a fair trial for political prisoners in Crimea.(Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
19 Feb 21. Berlin welcomes Biden’s announcement to keep U.S. troops in Germany. German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Friday welcomed an announcement from U.S. President Joe Biden that U.S. troops stationed in Germany will stay.
“We clearly understand this confirmation of America’s commitment to European security, a strong NATO, and a strategically unified West,” she told Reuters, responding to Biden’s speech at the virtual Munich Security Conference on Friday.
“This signal will be noticed and well understood,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said. “It is now up to us to take the hand that Washington has reached out with.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer said standing up for European and Atlantic security was a joint effort and a mutual obligation.
“We need to respond by showing our own commitment to this cause – in our defence spending, in our joint military deployments abroad, the strengthening of NATO, and the capabilities of our armed forces”, she added. (Source: Reuters)
19 Feb 21. Turkey hires U.S. lobbying firm to return to F-35 jet programme. Turkey has hired a Washington-based law firm to lobby for its readmission to the U.S. F-35 fighter jet programme after it was suspended over its purchase of Russian air defences, a contract filed with the U.S. Department of Justice showed.
Ankara had ordered more than 100 stealth fighters and has been making parts for their production, but was removed from the programme in 2019 after it bought the Russian S-400 missile defence systems, which Washington says threaten the F-35s.
It has now hired law firm Arnold & Porter for “strategic advice and outreach” to U.S. authorities, in a six-month contract worth $750,000 which started this month.
Ankara has said its removal from the programme was unjust, and President Tayyip Erdogan has said he hopes for positive developments under U.S. President Joe Biden.
The contract was signed with Ankara-based SSTEK Defence Industry Technologies, owned by the Turkish Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB), Ankara’s main defence industry authority.
Arnold & Porter will “advise on a strategy for the SSB and Turkish contractors to remain within the Joint Strike Fighter Program, taking into consideration and addressing the complex geopolitical and commercial factors at play,” the contract said.
Despite Turkey’s removal from the programme, and sanctions imposed on Turkey’s defence industry in December, the Pentagon has said it will continue to depend on Turkish contractors for key F-35 components.
Turkey’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said Turkey had already paid for some F-35 jets. “Even a hangar fee was taken from Turkey for the jets it could not take delivery of,” he told a NATO-related event on Thursday.
Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, speaking after a NATO defence ministers’ meeting, said he had “brought to the clear attention of our allies that licensing restrictions, attempts for sanctions or even the threat of sanctions against Turkey” only weaken the alliance. (Source: Reuters)
19 Feb 21. Croatia has shown interest in F-35 jets – Lockheed executive. Lockheed Martin co, the United States’ largest weapons maker, has fielded interest from Croatia regarding the purchase of stealthy F-35 jets, a Lockheed executive said on Friday.
Greg Ulmer, the executive vice president of Lockheed’s Aeronautics unit, told reporters, “they’ve shown interest” in buying the jets, which are a big part of Lockheed’s revenue.
A representative from the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Washington said “we are evaluating an offer of the new U.S. F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft, together with some other responses to our tender for a multi-role fighter aircraft, new or used,” but did not address the F-35.
Croatia is evaluating U.S., French and Swedish offers for fighter jets as it looks to modernize its air force, which now flies Russian-made MiG-21 jets dating from its past within the former Yugoslavia.
Croatia wanted to buy 12 used F-16 fighter jets from Israel, but it fell through after Israel said here in 2019 it could not get approval from the United States for the sale.
Other international customers for the fifth-generation F-35 include Canada, Finland, and Switzerland, which are running competitions for a future jet purchase. Additional customer prospects for Lockheed’s F-35 include Greece, Spain, Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries, Ulmer said in a media conference call.
Lockheed has also seen international interest for as many as 300 of its fourth-generation F-16 fighter jets on top of the current production backlog of 128 jets, Ulmer said. (Source: Reuters)
19 Feb 21. NATO proposes new approach to shared cost of deterrence activities. NATO should increase its common fund, or at least modify how it is currently used, to “incentivise” the allies to conduct more deterrence and defence activities to protect their collective home territory, argues NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who put the idea to a 17-18 February virtual meeting of allied defence ministers.
Those allies who do the most for deterrence should receive some financial support from the fund, he said.
“My proposal is that NATO should cover some of those costs because that will demonstrate stronger commitment to our collective defence, to Article 5, to deterrence and defence. It will incentivise allies to provide more capabilities, for air policing, [NATO’s] battlegroups [in the Baltics], standing naval forces, and it will mean fairer burden-sharing,” he said when asked by Janes to explain the concept during a press conference on 17 February. “We have already agreed to spend more…This is about how we spend the money.”
His idea will form part of a package of reform proposals – including one to update NATO’s strategic concept – to be presented to allied leaders at their next summit in Brussels, tentatively set for early June. Many of those proposals will link to recommendations in Stoltenberg’s NATO 2030 report, released in November 2020 and authored by a group of security experts he hand-picked.
Stoltenberg’s new cost-reimbursement idea threw the allies off guard, however, since he first floated it publicly during a 15 February briefing to reporters prior to the ministers’ meeting. Some allies were not amused. (Source: Jane’s)
19 Feb 21. £180m Army vehicle contract protects 700 Glasgow jobs. A £180m contract to deliver cutting edge threat detection technology for the British Army’s new Boxer vehicles will support hundreds of jobs in Scotland, it is announced today. The 10-year Remote Weapons Stations (RWS) contract will protect over 700 jobs at Thales UK’s Glasgow site while supporting 30 apprenticeships.
It uses a 360degree high definition long range cameras attached to the outside of the vehicle to scan for enemy threats, even when Boxer is moving at speed. The RWS then alerts soldiers inside the armoured Boxer through a digital display – so they can keep a permanent watch outside while remaining safely inside the vehicle.
The system also offers key defensive capabilities, including a multi-barrel smoke grenade launcher, thermal imaging, and infra-red pointers.
Defence last year secured a substantial settlement of more than £24 billion over four years to modernise the Armed Forces to meet the threats of the future and support British across the Union.
Minister for Scotland, Iain Stewart said, “We look forward to working with Thales UK on the delivery of these Remote Weapons Stations, knowing this contract will not only contribute to the safety of British military personnel on the front line, but also support industry growth here in Scotland.
Protecting hundreds of jobs and supporting 30 apprenticeships, this £180 million UK Government investment further demonstrates our commitment to supporting the defence sector in Scotland and underscores the many opportunities available within the United Kingdom economy.”
Minister of State for Defence, Baroness Goldie said, “This £180m contract with Thales UK will deliver pioneering surveillance and protection for our front line soldiers and our new Boxer fleet. We depend on skills and technology from across the United Kingdom and this order will secure 700 Scottish jobs.
Our troops face a myriad of new and emerging threats so it is imperative we invest in critical detect and destroy technology such as this. Following the sonar contract for Dreadnought submarines last year, this is Thales UK’s second multi-million-pound contract within 12 months, further showcasing the government’s commitment to levelling-up across the UK.”
DE&S Director Land Equipment, Major General Darren Crook said, “This is another significant step forward for Boxer and I am delighted to see the different threads of the programme coming together. This is a military capability of the future to be proud of. The UK re-joined the Boxer programme in 2018 and has committed £2.8bn to deliver over 500 vehicles to the British Army. The first vehicles are scheduled to be ready for service in 2023.”
Steven Lockley, Managing Director of Thales in the UK’s vehicle integration business in Glasgow, said, “Thales’ sub-contract is a great step forward after months of hard work. Working with our strategic partners, Thales is bringing new skills and technologies into the programme, our facilities in Scotland and the UK supply chain.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
17 Feb 21. NATO Defense Ministers Aim for New Chapter in Alliance History. Europe and North America have an opportunity to open a new chapter in the security relationship within NATO, and the alliance defense chiefs are examining proposals during their virtual defense meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels today.
It’s Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s first ministerial in his current role. The secretary has said he wants to rebuild U.S. alliances around the world.
Today’s discussions centered on proposals that could be part of the package presented to the alliance’s heads of state when the NATO summit is held in Brussels later this year.
The defense chiefs examined proposals including strengthening allied commitment to deterrence and defense by providing incentives to contribute more capabilities and ensure fairer burden sharing, Stoltenberg said. “We also need to raise our level of ambition when it comes to resilience, which is our first line of defense,” he said during a virtual news conference. “And we must do more to promote transatlantic cooperation on defense innovation so that NATO keeps its technological edge.”
The ministers discussed increasing political coordination within NATO. Stoltenberg has said he favors using the organization more as a platform for consultation and coordination on more issues and in more formats. “At the same time, we need to enhance our political and practical cooperation with like-minded democracies around the world, so we can protect the rules-based order, which is undermined by countries that do not share our values, like Russia and China,” he said.
The ministers also discussed burden sharing. The secretary general noted that 2021 is the seventh consecutive year of increased defense spending by European allies and Canada. Nine allies will reach the goal of spending at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense this year; three met that goal in 2014. Since that year, European allies and Canada have cumulatively contributed an extra $190bn.
“We are making real progress,” Stoltenberg said. “But we must all keep the commitments we have made and continue to invest in our defense and increase the readiness of our forces. This is the only way to keep our nation safe in a more unpredictable world.”
Tomorrow, the ministers will discuss NATO operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Source: US DoD)
17 Feb 21. Berlin and Paris in crisis talks to bring fighter jet project back on track. Costing more than 100bn euros ($120.4bn), the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) brings together Germany, France and Spain to forge an array of weapons amid deepening European defence cooperation.
Dassault Aviation, Airbus and Indra are involved in the scheme to start replacing France’s Rafale and German and Spanish Eurofighters from 2040.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron kicked off the ambitious venture in 2017, when the EU was rattled by Britain’s decision to leave the bloc and deeply divided over other issues such as the migrant crisis. But it has become mired in mistrust and differing visions between Berlin and Paris as well as corporate infighting over workshare, the sources told Reuters.
None of the parties has provided comment.
At the beginning of February, Merkel and Macron failed to settle the issue, leaving open when the next tranche of payments of at least 5bn euros can be released, insiders said.
On Wednesday, defence officials from France, Germany and Spain as well as Dassault, Airbus and Indra met in Paris to try to resolve the impasse, the sources said.
Part of the feud surrounds intellectual property rights.
France, represented by Dassault, is seen as particularly sensitive about access to its nuclear-capable supply chain. Germany, whose interests are represented in the project by Airbus, wants an equitable industrial share, the sources said.
When Spain formally joined last year it further complicated the task of parceling out work, with two of seven topics seen deadlocked.
Before moving ahead, Germany aims to gain concessions from France, insiders said, adding Berlin would like to be able to use technologies co-developed with Paris for its own projects.
One French source said Germany also wanted access to know-how developed purely in France. A German source denied this.
Disagreements run so deep that there are proposals to build two demonstrators instead of one, two sources told Reuters. Each would likely highlight different aspects of the FCAS project, which is designed to combine manned and unmanned warplanes.
A senior French parliamentarian expressed doubts about the project’s viability, citing political constraints including Berlin’s refusal to participate in combat operations abroad.
“To be honest, it would be a lot easier for us to work with Britain because we share the same military culture,” the French politician said. Britain is running its own BAE Systems -backed fighter programme, Tempest, with Italy and Sweden.
A planned update for the Franco-German Tiger attack helicopter, worth over 5.5bn euros, adds disagreements.
France is keen on the modernisation, but parts of the German military oppose any upgrade given the low operational readiness of the current Airbus model, sources said. On Thursday, French and German defence ministers will have another chance to solve the row in a scheduled virtual meeting. (Source: Reuters)
BATTLESPACE Comment: An example of déjà vu when Dassault refused to join the Eurofighter project. This si just the beginning of the end for this pan-European project leaving the gate wide open for a US/UK/Swedish sixth generation fighter with the possibility of Japanese involvement.
17 Feb 21. Swedish defense leaders push Saab’s Gripen offer for Finland. Top Swedish defense officials have thrown their weight behind Saab’s bid for the multibillion-dollar HX fighter competition in Finland, arguing the Gripen aircraft would enable unprecedented cooperation between the two countries in thwarting a hypothetical attack by Russia.
The Finnish race is one of two big-ticket aircraft competitions in Europe — Switzerland being the other — where major vendors from both sides of the Atlantic are jockeying for position. Finland has requested final offers by the end of April from Airbus for the Eurofighter; Dassault for the Rafale; Boeing for the Super Hornet; Lockheed Martin for the F-35; and Saab for the Gripen E/F.
Helsinki has budgeted roughly $12bn for the program.
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said the aircraft competition comes during a “deteriorating security situation” around the Baltic Sea, which he blamed on Russian military flexing. He framed greater defense cooperation among the Scandinavian countries as a prerequisite for standing up to Moscow’s “aggressive moves.”
“Air defense is a vital part of this,” Hultqvist said during an online press conference on Feb. 16.
Brig. Gen. Anders Persson, the Swedish deputy chief of the Air Force, zeroed in on Sweden and Finland as potential points of incursion for Russian forces. Adversarial airplanes could enter their airspace in large numbers, benefitting from the countries’ long northeast orientation, he said.
In such a case, the more exposed Finnish air fleet could fall back west on bases in neighboring Sweden, a feat that would be more easily accomplished if both countries had the Gripen, Persson argued.
“We’ll be like one air force with two commanders,” he said.
Saab CEO Micael Johansson dangled the prospect of enhanced industrial cooperation with Finnish companies, especially because the customer would get a role in developing new features on the Gripen.
“This aircraft has an architecture that makes it upgradeable in a very short time,” he said.
Johansson also praised the capabilities of another aircraft: the GlobalEye early-warning and spy plane, which Saab is offering to Finland for the country’s military modernization program. The aircraft’s sensors would essentially nullify stealth features of attacking aircraft, he claimed.
Warplane makers have been pulling out all the stops, often with help from their respective governments, to advertise their aircraft in the Finnish and Swiss competitions. Saab’s Gripen offer was eliminated from the Swiss race in 2019 because the “E” version of the plane wasn’t fully ready for the Swiss government’s flight demonstration regime at the time.
However, Saab is still banking on international expansion led by a sale of the Gripen to Brazil, Johansson said.
Norway, the westernmost neighbor on the Scandinavian peninsula, is upgrading its Air Force with F-35s. (Source: Defense News)
17 Feb 21. Austin Pleased With Discussions With NATO Leaders. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was pleased with the discussions held as part of the virtual NATO Defense Ministerial today, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.
Ministers from the 30 NATO nations discussed a wide range of issues. This was Austin’s first ministerial in his position.
The press secretary also answered questions about COVID-19 vaccinations in the military and dealt with the aftermath of the attack in Erbil, Iraq, during the Pentagon news conference.
The first NATO discussion covered deterrence and defense, burden-sharing and other aspects of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s NATO 2030 initiative. The second session “discussed ‘trans-Atlanticism,’ NATO-European Union relations, resilience of the alliance and emerging and disruptive technologies,” Kirby said. “The secretary reaffirmed the president’s message that the United States intends to revitalize our relationship with the alliance, and that our commitment to Article Five [of the Washington Treaty] remains ironclad.”
Austin emphasized his belief that NATO’s most important task is protecting the people and nations of the alliance by presenting credible deterrence and a strong military, Kirby said. He also said Austin expressed support for “the overarching goals of the NATO 2030 initiative, which are to ensure the alliance remains strong militarily, becomes stronger politically and takes a more global approach,” he said.
Kirby announced that within DOD, medics have administered 88.2 percent of vaccines on hand. The DOD has received 1,039,665 doses of the vaccines, and administered 916,575. “We expect … by the end of the week to be over the 1 million mark,” he said.
Kirby broke it down further saying 644,762 DOD personnel have received the initial dose and 271,813 individuals in the department have received their second doses.
Kirby condemned the attack that killed one American in Erbil and wounded others. Austin spoke to his Iraqi counterpart and offered whatever help they may need to find the perpetrators. So far there has been no request for aid. (Source: US DoD)
04 Feb 21. China and Russia threat means new chief of defence staff should be from Royal Navy. Military sources are calling for the next Chief of Defence Staff to have a naval background, such as First Sea Lord Tony Radakin .
The threats China and Russia pose to seas means the new chief of defence staff must be from the Royal Navy for the first time in 20 years, former admirals have said.
It comes as speculation has begun to mount over who will replace General Sir Nick Carter, who is due to retire as Chief of the Defence Staff at the end of a three-year term in June.
The Daily Telegraph understands that military sources are calling for Sir Nick’s replacement to be from a naval background, such as First Sea Lord Tony Radakin, 55, due to the fact the UK’s adversaries are presenting a greater presence at sea.
Lord West, the former first sea lord, said: “We are seeing a huge growth in the maritime threat from Russia and there are more submarines off our west coast than we’ve had since the Cold War.
“We see them increasingly flexing their muscles, meanwhile China is building up a blue water navy which she didn’t have before. Both their navies have created a much bigger threat on the oceans of the world.”
Lord West added that with that in mind “it’s probably a good idea to have a maritime CDS”.
In a letter published in The Telegraph today, The Maritime Foundation say Boris Johnson’s decision as to who becomes the new CDS “coincides with the increasing competition between authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia and the maritime democracies of the free world”.
They write: “To maintain its security and interests, and support its allies, Britain will need to focus on its natural element – the sea.”
However, the foundation cautions that in order to fulfil the Prime Minister’s commitment “to restoring the Royal Navy as Europe’s foremost maritime power”, then the next CDS “will require maritime and joint experience, a combination not seen since Admiral of the Fleet Lord Boyce was CDS 20 years ago”.
A senior academic in the defence sector added: “I think that everyone understands that the idea of Global Britain requires a maritime-based national strategy if it is to be credible. It is entirely appropriate that the armed forces should evolve to support this vision, led by someone with the appropriate joint and maritime credentials.”
However, a senior army source told The Telegraph that there were “no such thing as turns” and that the next CDS “should be the right person”.
They said: “We’ve had air force and navy chiefs of the defence staff when operations have been going on in domains that they are not from, but they’ve done it very well.
“You have to rise above your environmental and your service expertise because you have to be there for the whole of defence.”
They added that “threats don’t come from one domain”, adding that while “China and Russia present threats in the maritime domain they also present threats in space, in the air and in cyberspace”.
While some military sources suggested the decision as to who will become the next CDS could be as soon as this week, it is understood that the Defence Secretary and Mr Johnson have not yet scheduled a meeting to discuss the position.
The position is normally given to one of the five existing Chiefs of Staff.
Aside from Admiral Radakin, Sir Nick could be replaced by General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, 56, the head of the Army, former director of Special Forces, and another Old Etonian. General Sir Patrick Sanders, 54, Commander of Strategic Command is the favourite, while the other lead contender is Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, 52, the head of the Royal Air Force. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
16 Feb 21. Depleted uranium not the smoking gun of Gulf War illness. Debris from depleted uranium munitions used in the Gulf War has long been blamed for contributing to the illness of hundreds of thousands of veterans, but new research proves it is not the cause.
More than a quarter of a million US, UK and other Allied nations’ servicemen and women have endured Gulf War illness since the Persian Gulf War in 1991, 30 years ago.
The illness has a range of acute and chronic symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders and memory problems, and appears rooted in neurological impairment.
It has long been plausibly alleged that the soldiers inhaled significant quantities of depleted uranium from allied munitions used on the battlefield and suffered from its toxic and mildly radioactive effects.
Research at the University of Portsmouth tested US Gulf War illness sufferers to examine levels of residual depleted uranium in their bodies and their study proves conclusively – and, for many, surprisingly – that none of them were exposed to any significant amounts of depleted uranium.
The testing took into account the predicted decline in depleted uranium from normal metabolism over the time since potential exposure and testing, by using a highly sensitive method of testing in conjunction with metabolic modelling.
The research, by Professor Randall Parrish at the University of Portsmouth, UK, and Dr Robert Haley, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas (USA), is published in Nature Scientific Reports.
Professor Parrish said: “For decades, medics and scientists have been looking for the elusive cause of Gulf War illness.
“That depleted uranium is not and never was in the bodies of those who are ill at sufficient quantities to cause disease will surprise many, including sufferers who have, for 30 years, suspected depleted uranium may have contributed to their illness.”
He and Dr Haley believe the most likely remaining causes for the illness are low-level and widespread exposure to sarin nerve agent released widely from the destruction of Iraqi chemical weapons caches in January 1991, possibly compounded by the use of organophosphate anti-nerve agent medication and the liberal use of pesticides to prevent malaria exposure to allied forces.
Professor Parrish said: “Depleted uranium munitions were used in the conflict as an effective weapon to destroy Iraqi tanks and its use has littered Iraq and Kuwait with uranium contamination, potentially affecting local people.
“Medical studies have shown that it can cause cancers and birth defects and for decades it has been alleged to be a smoking gun in Gulf War illness, which affects about 250,000 of the 750,000+ allied forces who served in the six-month conflict.
“The plausibility of the link between depleted uranium and the illness has bubbled along now for nearly 30 years, but we would argue it’s time to look elsewhere.”
Professor Parrish developed a method of detecting depleted uranium in urine from an exposure many years earlier and tested it on a widely studied representative cohort of 154 well- monitored US Gulf War veterans who have the illness.
Not a single trace of depleted uranium was found in any of the samples.
This test was developed at and applied to veterans’ urine samples using high sensitivity mass spectrometry at the University of Portsmouth, a method that is at least 10 times more sensitive and robust than all the other previous measurements.
Professor Parrish said: “Uranium in urine samples is extremely low in concentration, so just doing the analysis is very challenging; in effect I had to extract and purify less than a tenth of one billionth of a gram of uranium from 150 grams of a urine sample containing about 5 grams of organic goo dissolved in it.
“We worked out how to do this without losing any of the uranium while also removing all the junk we don’t want. That’s about the same magnitude of task as extracting pure gold from seawater.”
Having found no depleted uranium in any of those with the illness, and no difference between them and a control group, who weren’t on the battlefield, alongside knowing how long the substance remains in the body and can be traced in the urine, proves depleted uranium is not linked to Gulf War illness.
Professor Parrish said: “Being able to debunk the alleged connection between this illness and this radioactive substance allows the medical community to focus more clearly on what the likely cause(s) actually are.
“Finding causes is a nebulous game when you have so many options to blame. The Allies’ own activities destroying an Iraqi nerve agent cache or spraying pesticides liberally on troops could be seen in hindsight as an inadvertent ‘own goal’ and one to be avoided in future conflicts. It is important to find causes for conditions like this, even if it takes a long time and the causes might be controversial.”
16 Feb 21. Families of veterans stripped of medals for being gay will be able to apply to have them returned. Families of veterans who were stripped of their medals for being gay will be able to apply to have them returned.
The Ministry of Defence has introduced a new policy to allow former Armed Forces personnel who were dismissed from service on the basis of their sexuality to apply to have their medals restored.
In some circumstances, the families of deceased personnel affected will also be able to apply.
Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said the historic ban on being homosexual in the military, which was not lifted until 2000, was “deeply regrettable” .
She said: “As a result of disciplinary action and their dismissal from service, some personnel forfeited medals that they had earned, and others were denied the opportunity of continued service that could have resulted in the restoration of medals that were forfeited for different reasons.
“I am very pleased now to be in a position to address this wrong and to invite any personnel affected or, in some circumstances, the families of those who are deceased to apply to have their medals returned.”
The MoD said that in correcting this “historic injustice”, it is seeking to comfort veterans and their families and underline that the Armed Forces is now an organisation that welcomes and promotes personnel.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer said he “would encourage anyone who may have been affected to apply to have their medals returned”.
He said: “LGBT+ personnel have and continue to make significant contributions to the Armed Forces.
“Today’s announcement addresses a historic injustice and demonstrates that the military is a positive place to work for all who choose to serve.”
The MoD confirmed that all applications will be reviewed individually by the Defence Council and, if approved, the MOD Medal Office will arrange for a new medal to be awarded to the claimant.
It added that work is also underway across the Government to “examine and understand the wide ranging impact of pre-2000 practices in the Armed Forces in relation to sexuality”.
They said that this will ensure that “the impact of this historical wrong is acknowledged and appropriately addressed”.
Craig Jones and Caroline Page, joint chief executives, Fighting with Pride said that “LGBT+ veterans are finally beginning their journey back to the military family”.
“Fighting With Pride looks forward to a better future for them, where they are recognised for their service, their health needs are supported and they are recompensed for the wrongs of the past,” they said. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
15 Feb 21. NATO Defense Ministers to Discuss Future of Alliance During Ministerial. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg outlined proposals for alliance leaders to discuss that will capitalize on NATO’s ability to adapt and change to changing security conditions. He spoke during a virtual press conference in advance of the virtual Defense Ministerial starting Wednesday.
The defense ministers will discuss Stoltenberg’s NATO 2030 proposals and ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This will be Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s first ministerial in his position.
The ministers will discuss issues that will be presented at the NATO Summit that will be held later this year in Brussels. “Our summit later this year will be a unique opportunity to start a new chapter for transatlantic relations,” Stoltenberg said from Brussels. “When we meet, I want to present leaders an ambitious agenda for transatlantic security and defense.”
His NATO 2030 proposals are the heart of the discussion he would like to see. The secretary general outlined those proposals for reporters.
The secretary general wants to see an increase in alliance funding for the core deterrence and defense activities. “This would support allied deployments in our battle groups in the eastern part of our alliance, air policing, maritime deployments and exercises,” he said.
This would have the effect of strengthening the alliance and contribute to fairer burden-sharing, he said.
Stoltenberg also wants the alliance to adopt clearer and more measurable national resilience targets to ensure a minimum standard of shared resilience among allies. Part of this would be an annual review of vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and technologies. This review would include risks stemming from foreign ownership and influence of capabilities.
NATO must preserve its technological edge. “I will propose a NATO Defense Innovation Initiative to promote interoperability and boost transatlantic cooperation on defense innovation,” he said. There is a real danger that more advanced nations could develop capabilities that won’t communicate with capabilities of lesser advanced NATO nations. He wants to preclude that.
In an era of “whole-of-government” strategies, Stoltenberg wants to increase political coordination between allies with more consultations on more issues including economic matters related to security. “We have the procedures in place to do this today, but what we need is more political will to use them,” he said.
It is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but NATO must address global challenges and develop a more global approach to problems and challenges, the secretary general said. “China and Russia are at the forefront of an authoritarian pushback against the rules-based international order,” he said. “So we should enhance our political dialogue and practical cooperation with like-minded partners to promote our values and protect our interests.”
A part of this proposal is to strengthen training and capacity building with European partner countries, “because prevention is better than intervention,” he said.
Climate change is real and is already having effects. The alliance needs to address the security implications of climate change. “I will therefore propose that NATO should set the gold standard on reducing emissions from the military sector and contribute to the goal of net-zero carbon emissions and conduct an annual assessment of how climate change might impact our troops and deployments,” he said.
NATO has kept the peace for more than 70 years. A creature of the Cold War, the alliance – now with 30 members – adapted to the fall of the Soviet Union and still keeps the peace. Stoltenberg would like to see this legacy continue. ” I will recommend [updating] NATO’s Strategic Concept to jointly address the changing strategic environment to recommit to our values and to reinforce the transatlantic bond,” he said.
Key to NATO has always been the unbreakable transatlantic bond, he said. The last four years tested that. “I think it’s no secret that over the last four years we had some difficult discussions inside NATO, but now we look to the future,” he said. “The future is that we now have an administration … in Washington, which is strongly committed to the transatlantic bond, to NATO and to Europe and North America working together.”
Stoltenberg has spoken with President Joe Biden and he called Biden “very strong, very clear on the importance of re-building alliances and further strengthening NATO.”
Afghanistan is a contentious issue that the defense ministers will contend with. Under the U.S. agreement with the Taliban, all foreign troops are supposed to be out of the country by May 1. “I will not preempt the conclusions of the ministerial meeting this week, but what I can say is that we need to find the right balance between making sure that we do not stay longer than necessary, but at the same time that we don’t leave too early,” Stoltenberg said. “We should not end up in a situation where Afghanistan again becomes a platform, a safe haven, for international terrorists, which is actually the reason why we went in there.”
There are about 10,000 NATO troops – including 2,500 Americans – in Afghanistan today. The NATO force is performing a train, assist and advise mission.
A final issue the ministers will discuss is Iraq’s request for more alliance help in training forces and building security capabilities. (Source: US DoD)
14 Feb 21. MPs want China and Russia barred from defence chain. The report identifies nine companies operating in the UK defence supply chain that have been acquired by Chinese buyers
Chinese and Russian companies must be banned from acquiring British defence contractors to end “a laissez-faire approach to our national security and sovereignty”, an influential group of MPs has demanded.
An investigation of foreign involvement in the military supply chain by the defence select committee found stronger safeguards around foreign investment are required. The MPs recommend a ‘whitelist’ of friendly countries as “most investments are from close allies and are to be welcomed”.
But they add: “Countries falling outside this list should be barred from investing in the UK’s defence supply chain, including China and Russia.”
Their reports criticises the Ministry of Defence’s “open and country-agnostic” approach that encourages foreign investment as a “primary means for delivering value for money” on equipment. It leaves the defence supply chain “open to potentially hostile foreign involvement”, the MPs add. Richard Drax, the Conservative chairman of the defence select committee, said: “We cannot afford a laissez-faire approach to our national security and sovereignty.
“No British company should be left with the choice of either going under or accepting hostile foreign investment, and the Government must ensure that no one finds themselves in this position.” The report identifies nine companies operating in the UK defence supply chain that have been acquired by Chinese buyers.
These include Dynex Semiconductor, whose high-voltage transistors could have helped develop the Chinese navy’s railguns after a majority stake was taken in the Lincoln-based business by Zhuzhou CSR Times Electric in 2008.
Worries about Dynex are believed to have contributed to the recent National Security and Investment Bill (NSIB), which grant ministers new powers to block foreign takeovers.
The defence committee report also claims that the MoD did not know that Exception PCB, a supplier of circuit boards for F-35 fighters, was owned by a Chinese company.
Officials only discover Shenzhen Fastprint had acquired Exception PCB six years after the deal, alerted by a news report, MPs said. Defence chiefs have disputed this, however. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
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