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Defence Aviation Repair Agency
19. Mr. Win Griffiths : If he will make a statement of the developing role of DARA in Wales. [83974]
Mr. Ingram: The Defence Aviation Repair Agency is creating centres of excellence as the focus for its business development. In Wales, there are two centres of excellence, St Athan in South Wales which carries out fixed wing aircraft maintenance, and Sealand in North Wales that now does all the Agency’s electronic business. The two sites represent nearly 70 per cent. of the DARA’s business.
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Challenger II
20. Mr. Swayne : What decision has been reached in respect of the number of Challenger II tanks to be converted for desert operations. [83975]
Mr. Hoon: A number of Challenger 2 tanks are being modified to improve their performance in desert conditions in line with continuing contingency planning. I do not intend to compromise operational security by revealing the exact number of tanks involved.
Gulf (Military Units)
21. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of Defence if he will make a statement on recent activities of the Royal Navy in the Gulf. [83976]
Mr. Ingram: The Royal Navy maintains a permanent presence in the Gulf. For over 10 years it has made a valuable contribution to the Multinational Interception Force deployed in the Gulf to enforce Iraqi compliance with UN sanctions. The Royal Navy deployed in the Gulf also plays its part in the international campaign against terrorism. Beyond these ongoing commitments, a Mine Countermeasure Group deployed to the Gulf during November. This is a long planned, routine deployment, to conduct bilateral exercises with a number of Gulf States, building on the successful bilateral training conducted in the region in the wake of last year’s Saif Sareea II in Oman.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what British military units are deployed in the Gulf region. [83968]
Mr. Hoon: Units from the UK armed forces are regularly deployed in the Gulf region.
For example, the RAF continues to patrol the no-fly zones over Iraq in support of UN SCR 688 which demanded that Saddam Hussein cease repression of his own people. The Royal Navy maintains a permanent presence in the Gulf to enforce sanctions on Iraq and as part of our contribution to the campaign against international terrorism. Two RAF Nimrod aircraft are also deployed to the Gulf region for the same purpose.
In addition to those continuing commitments, we have deployed 400 personnel to take part in a long planned United States-led biennial command post exercise in Qatar. A Mine Countermeasure Group is also currently undertaking a routine deployment to the Gulf in order to conduct bilateral exercises with a number of Gulf States.
A wide range of personnel are deployed throughout the region, from all three services, in support of defence diplomacy.
22. Ross Cranston: What potential security threat remnants of al-Qaeda pose to the security of (a) Afghanistan and (b) other countries. [83977]
Mr. Ingram: The al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan has been severely weakened by coalition military action. Isolated remnants of al-Qaeda and Taleban forces
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continue to pose a limited threat to the security of Afghanistan, and coalition operations to defeat them continue.
More widely, al-Qaeda has a global reach. Despite important arrests in the past month, many of the organisation’s leaders are still at large, and pose a significant threat to international security. That is why we, together with our coalition partners, shall continue to hunt down the al-Qaeda leadership until they are brought to account for their crimes.
Armed Forces Personnel (Non-combatant Deaths)
23. Simon Hughes: What steps he is taking to reduce the number of non-combatant deaths of armed forces personnel. [83978]
Dr. Moo

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