08 May 08. House of Commons: Defence Debate. The House of Commons debated (8 May 08) Defence in the World. The Defence Secretary opened the Debate, which was wound-up by the Armed Forces’ Minister. The main topics addressed by the Ministers were Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo together with some comment on ballistic missile defence.
Comment: The Debate is recorded in Hansard for 8 May 08, starting at Column 875. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0819, 12 May 08)
07 May 08. Northern Ireland (NI): Future Garrison. The House of Commons held a short Debate (Westminster Hall, 7 May 08) on RAF Aldergrove. The Debate followed the announcement (24 Apr 08) by the Armed Forces’ Minister that 230 Squadron RAF was to be moved from Aldergrove in NI to join the rest of the Puma helicopters at RAF Benson.
Comment: The Debate was secured by the Member of Parliament for South Antrim who claimed that he/his constituents had been ‘slighted’ by the above announcement, but his case was hardly worth pursuing. The Armed Forces’ Minister took the opportunity to confirm the moves of various 19 Light Brigade units into NI (Hansard, Column 263 WH). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0819, 12 May 08)
08 May 08. Belize: Training Continues. The Defence Procurement Minister said (8 May 08) that there were no plans to close the British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB), although a review of Light Forces training was taking place. Overall activity levels at BATSUB are expected to remain broadly unchanged.
Comment: There has been a British military presence in Belize, formerly British Honduras, since the late 17th century. The BATSUB Permanent Staff, numbering about 40, co-ordinates training activities for visiting units/sub-units. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0819, 12 May 08)
08 May 08. Future Rapid Effect System (FRES): Utility Vehicle. The Defence Secretary announced (8 May 08) that, for FRES, the MoD had “provisionally selected the Piranha 5, offered by General Dynamics (UK) Ltd, as the preferred design to be taken forward to the next stage of the Utility Vehicle programme”. FRES was described as “an incremental programme to replace parts of the Army’s Saxon, FV430 and CVR(T) vehicle fleets….”.
Comment: On 21 Apr 08, the Defence Procurement Minister said that the FRES programme was to provide a fleet of over 3,000 vehicles and that the Utility Vehicle would make up just over half the total. The Defence Committee has recorded that the Utility variant of FRES should have been in-service in 2009, but note the word “provisionally” above. The whole programme has become about as exciting as watching paint dry. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0819, 12 May 08)
06 May 08. Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC): Extra Funding. The Armed Forces’ Minister announced (6 May 08) that an additional £24m was to be spent on the DMRC at Headley Court in Surrey. The money is to be used “to fund significant ward and accommodation upgrades over the next four years”.
Comment: Belatedly the MoD has recognised an “increase in the numbers of patients and the complexity of the treatment required” resulting from two unpopular Campaigns. To a certain extent, the MoD has been shamed into action by charities such as SSAFA. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0819, 12 May 08)
09 May 08. Medical Care: Government Response to Report. The Government Response to the Defence Committee’s Report on Medical Care for the Armed Forces was published (9 May 08), as HC 500 for £6:00.
Comment: The original Report, published as HC 327 on 18 Feb 08, was a comprehensive review of the Defence Medical Services and those who found it of interest will require the Government Response (for completeness, if nothing else). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0819, 12 May 08)
07 May 08. Volunteer Reserve Forces: Strengths. The Armed Forces’ Minister said (7 May 08) that the latest manning figures for t