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31 août 2013 6 31 /08 /août /2013 11:35
Desert Rats prepare for Afghanistan

An RAF Chinook brings in a light gun (and plenty of dust) for the gathered media [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]

 

30 August 2013  Ministry of Defence

 

7th Armoured Brigade personnel have displayed their skills on Salisbury Plain prior to deploying to Afghanistan later this year.

 

It is nearly time for the ‘Desert Rats’, as members of 7th Armoured Brigade are known, to return to the desert. Although, this time, the desert that the famous brigade will be heading to is in Helmand province, where they will be taking over the role of Task Force Helmand (TFH).

The deployment on Operation Herrick 19 will see personnel from all 3 Services working closely with 3/215 Brigade of the Afghan National Army. And, as is the norm, the media were invited to Salisbury Plain to see some of the skills that the Rats have honed over an extensive period of pre-deployment training.

Media days tend to illustrate the main role that the troops will be playing during their tour. Not long ago the event would have had a dramatic pyrotechnic theme as troops displayed their patrolling and soldiering skills; helicopters would worry their way into contested areas to pick up the wounded.

The media day for Herrick 18 on a snow-swept Salisbury Plain focused on troops working with the Afghan Army and Police, advising and mentoring them and helping them to develop their skills.

Corporal Ed Grace demonstrates the Dragon Runner
Corporal Ed Grace, from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, demonstrates the Dragon Runner bomb disposal robot [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]

Yesterday, 29 August, the main event was the drawdown of a forward patrol base, which will be an important feature of Herrick 19. Brigade Commander, Brigadier James Woodham, said:

In preparation for the tour I visit Afghanistan often to talk to those doing the job there at the moment, and it is clear to me that there has been great progress.

The Afghan Army in Helmand are without doubt showing themselves to be brave, competent and able to plan and conduct their own complex operations, the vast majority of which are conducted with no support from ISAF.

The police have clearly benefited from the concerted training effort over the years.

The success that has been seen in transferring responsibility for security to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the development of public trust in their government has meant that the current Task Force has been able to press ahead with disengagement and to close those bases for which there is no longer any operational need:

I fully expect that this process will continue,” said the Brigadier. “As a result the force that I deploy with will be smaller. As I take over, the full force numbers will be about 6,000, falling to 5,200 by the end of the year.

Brigadier James Woodham
Brigadier James Woodham, Commander of 7th Armoured Brigade [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]

Brigadier Woodham said that he expected Herrick 19 would see the ANSF continuing to develop and that TFH would work with them only when required, with the focus being on increasing their independence and sustainability:

I fully expect in my time to conclude the process of closing and transferring the UK’s bases in Helmand. And as this process takes place we will be able to redeploy more of our people and equipment back to the UK and to Germany.

Which is why the showpiece of the day was the breaking down of a patrol base. Of course, in itself this is nothing new. British troops have been breaking down bases for generations.

But, whereas in years gone by the field guns and equipment would have been moved out on horseback, yesterday it was an upgraded RAF Chinook Mk4 helicopter, dubbed the workhorse of the skies, that took the strain of lifting a 105mm light gun, while a demountable rack offload and pickup system (a big army lorry) hauled away the more standard items.

An Apache attack helicopter provided air cover while an outer ring of Ridgback armoured vehicles and an inner platoon of soldiers held the ground secure as sappers dismantled a watchtower.

An Apache attack helicopter
An Apache attack helicopter providing air cover during the media day on Salisbury Plain [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]

It was an important reminder that, while this tour for UK troops will be less kinetic and more advisory than in the past, basic soldiering skills must nevertheless be maintained to the highest level:

What you will see today is our chance to polish our skills, before using them for real in Helmand,” said Brigadier Woodham. “I’m pleased to say that the training progression has gone from strength to strength, and the training my soldiers have received has been first class, hugely realistic and challenging.

The training for Afghanistan which has been delivered by the Army has been really well-focused; we don’t just roll out the same training as last time. The training organisations work really hard to reflect the sorts of roles that the troops are going to do.

All the way through it was clear that Herrick 19 was going to be different. Therefore that’s been bedded into all the training courses and exercises and I’m confident that our soldiers are prepared for whatever will come their way.

Private Danny Greenhalgh with military working dog Amy
Private Danny Greenhalgh, from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, with his military working dog Amy, a 4-year-old Belgian Shepherd [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]

That was certainly an opinion that was echoed by the soldiers manning the stands:

It’s my first tour,” said Lance Corporal James Carstairs, part of a 2 Medical Regiment combat medical team. “I feel prepared for everything to do with my job, and I’m very comfortable about going.

Another first-timer will be reservist Lieutenant Jabez Crisp, a watchkeeper in 2 Logistic Support Regiment. It will be his job to keep a close eye on the movements of the logistic convoys as they supply troops and bring back kit and equipment from those bases that are closing or being handed over. He said:

I admit to a healthy level of stage fright. But I’m very ready to go.

There was another army asset that could not be displayed on the day, but to which the Brigadier wanted to pay tribute:

I must mention some unsung heroes, our families,” he said, “for on the eve of deployment they too are preparing for the challenges that lie ahead. But they are not alone. Each unit has on hand a dedicated team to assist and help make the time pass as painlessly as possible.

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30 août 2013 5 30 /08 /août /2013 18:50
Syrie : Hollande prêt à intervenir sans le Royaume-Uni

30 août 2013 JDD

 

Dans une interview au Monde datée de samedi, François Hollande affirme que "la France veut une action proportionnée et ferme contre le régime de Damas". Le refus des Britanniques de participer à une telle opération ne change pas la position du président.

 

Malgré le "non" du Parlement britannique, François Hollande maintient sa position. Dans une interview au Monde datée de samedi, le président affirme que "la France veut une action proportionnée et ferme contre le régime de Damas". Et ce, malgré le refus des Britanniques de participer à une telle opération. Le chef de l'Etat ajoute qu'il aura ce vendredi "un échange approfondi avec Barack Obama".

Quand est ce qu'aura lieu une telle intervention? Pas avant le départ de Syrie des inspecteurs onusiens, qui ont entamé vendredi leur dernier jour d'enquête sur le site de l'attaque présumée chimique près de Damas. Mais François Hollande n' exclut pas une opération avant que le Parlement ne se réunisse ce mercredi. "Et si j'ai engagé la France, le gouvernement l'informera des moyens et des objectifs poursuivis, conformément à l'article 35 de la Constitution", assure-t-il.

 

Suite de l'article

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30 août 2013 5 30 /08 /août /2013 16:50
photo Airbus Military

photo Airbus Military

Aug 30, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Airbus Military; issued August 29, 2013)

 

First A400M Wings for Royal Air Force Leave for Final Assembly Line

 

The wings for the first Airbus Military A400M Atlas new generation airlifter for the Royal Air Force have left the Airbus plant in Filton, UK where they are made, bound for the final assembly line at Seville, Spain.

 

The wings were loaded onto the Airbus roll-on-roll-off ferry at Royal Portbury Docks.

 

The aircraft, the first of 22 ordered by the United Kingdom, is due to be delivered in September 2014.

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30 août 2013 5 30 /08 /août /2013 07:30
Syrie: Obama prêt à intervenir en dépit du retrait britannique (journal)

WASHINGTON, 30 août - RIA Novosti

 

Le président américain Barack Obama est prêt à autoriser une frappe "limitée" contre la Syrie en dépit du refus de Londres de participer à l'intervention, rapporte vendredi le Washington Post citant des sources au sein de la Maison Blanche.

 

"En dépit des déclarations d'Obama qui affirme ne pas avoir pris de décision définitive, tout porte à croire que la frappe pourrait avoir lieu dès que les inspecteurs de l'Onu auront quitté la Syrie", indique le quotidien.

 

Toujours selon le journal, le départ des experts onusiens chargés d'enquêter sur les cas présumés d'emploi d'armes chimiques en Syrie est prévu samedi 31 août.

 

Dans la nuit de jeudi, le parlement britannique a rejeté à vendredi l'idée d'une intervention militaire contre la Syrie. Par la suite, le ministre britannique de la Défense Philip Hammond a estimé qu'une frappe contre le régime de Damas aurait lieu en dépit du retrait de Londres.

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30 août 2013 5 30 /08 /août /2013 07:30
Syria: Britain sets out intelligence case for military action

29 Aug 2013 By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent - telegraph.co.uk

 

Britain’s case for military intervention in Syria is based on a “limited but growing body of intelligence”, which suggests it is “highly likely” the Syrian regime was responsible for last week’s devastating chemical weapons attack, the government has said. But Mr Cameron, in last night’s debate, admitted the intelligence did not provide a definitive case against Assad.

 

An intelligence dossier released by the Prime Minister shows the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) - which oversees Britain's spy network - said that the chemical attack, which killed at least 350 civilians, was “probably” delegated by Bashar al-Assad to one of his commanders, rather than overseen by the Syrian President himself.

However the JIC guidance, which forms the basis for David Cameron’s case to attack Syria, says that it cannot establish the motive behind the attack.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, the JIC chairman Jon Day concluded that there are “no plausible alternative scenarios” other than the attack being an act of the Syrian regime.

The letter was released on the same day that American sources admitted there was “no smoking gun” proving President Assad personally ordered his forces to use chemical weapons.

The weight given to the JIC documents was questioned by some MPs. Ben Bradshaw, a former Labour Cabinet minister, said: “‘Intelligence’ published by JIC today is not intelligence but assertion. The Government’s going to have to do much better than that”

David Davis, former shadow home secretary, said: “We must consider, being where we’ve been before in this House, that our intelligence as it stands might just be wrong because it was before and we have got to be very, very hard in testing it.”

But Mr Cameron, in last night’s debate, admitted the intelligence did not provide an definitive case against Assad.

He said: “Of course intelligence is part of this picture, but let’s not pretend there is one smoking piece of intelligence that can solve whole problem. In the end there is no 100 per cent certainty about who is responsible. You have to make a judgment.”

Mr Day’s letter to Mr Cameron, dated yesterday, dispensed with the traditional formal salutations and farewells of letter-writing, and bears the reference “Jp 115”.

It is likely to become one of the most scrutinised government documents since the Labour government’s now notorious Iraq dossier published in 2003.

The two-page letter was accompanied by a short summary of the intelligence case which runs to just 313 words, in six short paragraphs.

Critically, this document said the JIC believes permission to authorise chemical weapons had “probably been delegated” by President Bashar al-Assad to senior regime commanders.

The summary is also dated as the “JIC’s assessment of August 27 on reported chemical weapons use in Damascus” - and it is not known why later intelligence, if it exists, was not included in the document.

Amid claims by the Syrian regime and others that the chemical attack was faked or staged by the Syrian rebels, Mr Day said in his letter: “There is no credible intelligence or other evidence to substantiate the claims or the possession of CW [chemical weapons] by the opposition.

“The JIC has therefore concluded that there are no plausible alternative scenarios to regime responsibility.”

He went on: “We also have a limited but growing body of intelligence which supports the judgement that the regime was responsible for the attacks and that they were conducted to help clear the Opposition from strategic parts of Damascus.

“Against that background, the JIC concluded that it is highly likely that the regime was responsible for the CW attacks on 21 August.

“The JIC had high confidence in all of its assessments except in relation to the regime’s precise motivation for carrying out an attack of this scale at this time - though intelligence may increase our confidence in the future.”

He also pointed out the JIC assessed President Bashar al-Assar’s regime had used chemical weapons on 14 previous occasions since last year.

The intelligence summary said: “Permission to authorise CW has probably been delegated by President Asad to senior regime commanders, such as [redacted], but any deliberate change in the scale and nature of use would require his authorisation.”

United States intelligence sources yesterday indicated that its agencies intercepted communications discussing the chemical attack between officials in Syria’s central command and in the field.

But it is understood these do not clearly implicate President Assad or his entourage in ordering the use of chemicals.

The Americans admitted there was “no smoking gun” proving President Assad personally ordered his forces to use chemical weapons. But it expressed high confidence that Syrian government forces carried out the attack and that Assad’s government therefore bears responsibility.

“This was not a rogue operation,” one US official said.

Evidence that forces loyal to Assad were responsible goes beyond the circumstantial to include electronic intercepts and some tentative scientific samples from the neighborhood which was attacked, US officials said.

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, and Chuck Hagel, the US Defence Secretary, are due to brief senior members of Congress on the situation on Thursday.

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30 août 2013 5 30 /08 /août /2013 07:30
Chuck Hagel secrétaire américain à la Défense (Photo Glenn Fawcett DoD)

Chuck Hagel secrétaire américain à la Défense (Photo Glenn Fawcett DoD)

WASHINGTON, 30 août - RIA Novosti

 

Washington cherche toujours à créer une "coalition internationale" pour lancer une opération militaire en Syrie malgré le rejet d'une intervention par le parlement britannique, a déclaré vendredi le chef du Pentagone Chuck Hagel, cité par les médias occidentaux.

 

"Notre approche est de continuer pour trouver une coalition internationale qui agira de concert", a déclaré le secrétaire américain à la Défense lors d'une conférence de presse à Manille.

 

Dans la nuit de jeudi à vendredi, le parlement britannique a rejeté l'idée d'une intervention militaire contre la Syrie. Jeudi, le premier ministre canadien Stephen Harper a déclaré que son pays ne participerait pas à une opération militaire en Syrie.

 

Toutefois, le président américain Barack Obama serait prêt à autoriser une frappe "limitée" contre la Syrie, selon les médias américains citant des sources au sein de la Maison Blanche.

 

Cette frappe pourrait avoir lieu une fois que les inspecteurs de l'Onu, chargés d'enquêter sur le recours à l'arme chimique en Syrie, auront quitté le pays.

 

Leur départ est prévu pour samedi 31 août.

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30 août 2013 5 30 /08 /août /2013 07:30
British 'no' hits US plans for coalition against Syria

Aug 30, 2013 ASDNews (AFP)

 

British lawmakers have rejected their government's call for military strikes against the Syrian regime, leaving the US to look elsewhere for international partners while reserving the right to act alone against Damascus.

 

The British House of Commons voted Thursday to defy Prime Minister David Cameron's bid to win support for military intervention over the Syrian regime's suspected use of chemical weapons against its own people.

 

Speaking in Manila Friday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel insisted Washington is still seeking an "international coalition" to take action against the Syrian regime.

 

"Our approach is to continue to find an international coalition that will act together," Hagel told a news conference.

 

Hagel said Washington respected the British parliament's stance rejecting participation in any punitive strikes against Syria's regime.

 

"We are continuing to consult with the British as with all of our allies. That consultation includes ways forward together on a response to this chemical weapons attack in Syria," he added.

 

The British parliament's decision also came after the failure of an improbable eleventh-hour effort by British diplomats to win UN backing for action against Bashar al-Assad's regime at a meeting of the permanent members of the Security Council.

 

"It is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly," Cameron said.

 

His government was defeated by just 13 votes in the House of Commons in its bid for a "strong humanitarian response" to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.

 

That, combined with deadlock at the United Nations, appeared to effectively sound the death knell for the idea of a broad-based Western military coalition, although other American allies might still participate.

 

Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman said that President Barack Obama's decision-making "will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States.

 

"He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable."

 

Earlier, envoys from the permanent five members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- had met at UN headquarters in New York.

 

The 45-minute meeting was the second since Britain proposed a draft resolution to permit "all necessary measures" to protect Syrian civilians after a suspected chemical weapons attack last week.

 

But none of the envoys commented as they left.

 

Earlier in the week reports had suggested that a Western strike was imminent, but questions have been raised about the quality of the intelligence linking Assad to the attack.

 

The White House reached out to US lawmakers, with the president's top aides briefing congressional leaders in a 90 minute conference call.

 

Some members of Congress voiced support for limited, surgical strikes, while urging the administration to continue consulting closely with the Congress.

 

Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House, said she agreed with House Speaker John Boehner that "there needs to be more consultation with all members of Congress and additional transparency into the decision making process and timing, and that the case needs to be made to the American people.

 

"It is clear that the American people are weary of war. However, Assad gassing his own people is an issue of our national security, regional stability and global security. We must be clear that the United States rejects the use of chemical weapons by Assad or any other regime," she said.

 

US warships armed with scores of cruise missiles are converging on the eastern Mediterranean, and US military officials have said they are ready to launch a powerful barrage against regime targets in Syria.

 

Assad's ally Russia has blocked all attempts to toughen international sanctions against Damascus or authorise outside force to punish or unseat the regime.

 

Syria, meanwhile, is in the 29th month of a vicious civil war in which more than 100,000 people are credibly reported to have died.

 

As the stand-off continues, a team of UN inspectors are investigating reports that last week's gas attack outside Damascus killed more than 350 people, including women and children.

 

A UN spokesman said Thursday that the team had collected "considerable" evidence and will brief UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon soon after they leave Syria on Saturday.

 

"Starting tomorrow he will try to reach out to member states and take discussions forward on the question of what is happening in Syria," the spokesman said.

 

Ban has appealed for the inspectors to be allowed to complete their work before the major powers decide any follow-up action.

 

Assad remained defiant in the face of the Western threats.

 

"Syria will defend itself in the face of any aggression," state television cited him as telling a visiting delegation of Yemeni politicians.

 

He vowed that any attack would result in "victory" for the Syrian people.

 

His regime has denied using chemical weapons and blamed "terrorist" rebels.

 

The mood among Damascus residents was fearful, while security forces prepared for possible air attacks by pulling back soldiers from potential targets and introducing tougher controls at roadblocks and hospitals.

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30 août 2013 5 30 /08 /août /2013 06:50
Cameron Loses War Vote In Parliament

Aug. 29, 2013 - By OREN DORELL and KIM HJELMGAARD – Defense News

 

LONDON — The British Parliament on Thursday narrowly voted against military action int Syria, possibly forcing the United States to go it alone to strike Syria over a recent chemical attack that killed hundreds of people.

 

Prime Minister David Cameron said it was clear the Parliament does not want action and “I will act accordingly,” according to the BBC.

 

The government motion requesting backing for a strike was defeated 285 to 272.

 

The votes came on a day that the Obama administration postponed disclosure of the intelligence that led it to conclude the regime of Bashar Assad was to blame for the Aug. 21 chemical attack that killed hundreds of people in a region north of Damascus. The British government released its intelligence findings Thursday.

 

The document released by Downing Street that sets out the government’s legal position says, “military intervention to strike specific targets” would be “legally justifiable.” Cameron, a Conservative Party member, had said earlier he could act without Parliament approval.

 

Meanwhile, a meeting of the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members ended quickly Thursday with no sign of progress on an agreement over Syria’s crisis. The meeting Thursday afternoon started breaking up after less than an hour, with the ambassadors of China, France, Britain, Russia and the United States walking out.

 

It was the second time in two days that the five Security Council powers came out of a meeting on Syria with no progress.

 

The wrangling comes as Russia insisted no action could take place without U.N. approval, and it dispatched two warships to the Mediterranean where at least three U.S. warships have been positioned for days in case of an order to attack. Iran also announced it would coordinate its efforts with Russia to stop any attack.

 

Britain’s government said earlier that the legal conditions have been clearly met for taking action against Syria for allegedly launching a chemical attack against its people.

 

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond had said that the leader of the Labor party was giving “succour” to Assad.

 

“Anything that stops us from giving a clear united view of the British Parliament tonight will give some succour to the regime,” he told Channel 4 News.

 

The opposition Labor Party had said it wants to see “compelling evidence” of the Syrian regime’s guilt before siding with Cameron’s governing coalition in a parliamentary vote. Labor Party leader Ed Miliband said he was “determined we learn the lessons of the past, including (on) Iraq,” where much ballyhooed evidence of weapons of mass destruction was subsequently deemed to be false.

 

The potential roadblock to war comes as Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee concluded that it is “highly likely” that Assad’s regime was responsible for the alleged chemical attack. A document released by the JLC forms the British government’s first published evidence indicating culpability for the attack.

 

The independent Doctors Without Borders group says at least 355 people died in the attack. Syria’s regime has denied using chemical weapons.

 

Meanwhile, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone and was quoted by Iranian state TV as saying that “military action will bring great costs for the region” and “it is necessary to apply all efforts to prevent it.”

 

According to state TV, Rouhani said both Iran and Russia would work in “extensive cooperation” to prevent any military action against Syria. The Iranian president also called such military action an “open violation” of international laws.

 

Britain can go to war without the express consent or backing of Parliament but in the wake of the Iraq War in 2003 there have been calls for the government to always seek the approval of Parliament.

 

On Wednesday, Cameron reversed an earlier to decision to hold a single formal parliamentary vote that would specifically seek authorization for British action. He bowed to opposition demands that a second vote by Parliament be required, but only after U.N. investigators conclude their findings. That is supposed to happen Saturday, according to the U.N.

 

Meanwhile, the Syrian government had sent a letter to the British government asking for talks.

 

“We implore you to communicate through civilized dialogue rather than a monologue of blood and fire,” the letter said, according to the BBC, which obtained a copy. The open letter was sent by the Syrian parliament speaker who also invited British MPs to send a delegation to the Mideast nation.

 

President Obama said Wednesday he has concluded the Syrian regime is behind the attack.

 

A yet-to-be-released report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence outlining evidence against Syria includes a few key caveats — including acknowledging that the U.S. intelligence community no longer has the certainty it did six months ago of where the regime’s chemical weapons are stored, nor does it have proof Assad ordered chemical weapons use, according to two intelligence officials and two more U.S. officials, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

 

The officials, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the intelligence report publicly, said intelligence linking Assad or his inner circle to the alleged chemical weapons attack is no “slam dunk.”

 

Dorell and Hjelmgaard write for USA Today.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 23:14
Le Parlement britannique rejette toute action militaire en Syrie

29.08.2013 à 23h57 Le Monde.fr (AFP)

 

Les députés britanniques ont voté jeudi 29 août contre la motion gouvernementale présentée  par le premier ministre, David Cameron, qui défendait le principe d'une intervention militaire en Syrie en réponse aux lourds soupçons d'usage d'armes chimiques par Damas.

 

"Il est clair que le Parlement britannique ne veut pas d'intervention militaire britannique. Je prends note et le gouvernement agira en conséquence", a réagi David Cameron après ce vote, ajoutant qu'il était "attaché au respect de la volonté de la Chambre des Communes".

 

La motion, présentée en début d'après-midi à la Chambre des communes par David Cameron et soumise au vote dans la soirée, condamnait l'usage d'armes chimiques "par le régime de Bachar Al-Assad", et réclamait une intervention de la communauté internationale, "impliquant si nécessaire une action militaire légale et proportionnée". Lors de son allocution, David Cameron avait cependant reconnu qu'"il n'y a pas 100 % de certitude" sur la responsabilité de l'attaque présumée à l'arme chimique en Syrie, tout en redisant sa conviction qu'elle avait été menée par le régime syrien.

 

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 17:30
Syrie/attaque chimique: "pas 100% de certitude" (Cameron)

MOSCOU, 29 août - RIA Novosti

 

Le premier ministre britannique David Cameron a reconnu jeudi devant les députés ne pas avoir 100% de certitude quant à la responsabilité ou non du régime syrien dans l'usage d'armes chimiques dans une banlieue de Damas.

 

"Il n'y a pas, effectivement, 100% de certitude quant aux responsables de l'attaque chimique (près de Damas). Nous n'avons pas de preuves attestant l'absence d'armes chimiques chez l'opposition et la possession de telles armes par le régime (…). Cela ne suffit pas pour affirmer que le régime en est responsable et en répondra", a déclaré le chef du gouvernement.

 

M.Cameron a été contraint par l'opposition travailliste d'attendre le rapport des inspecteurs de l'Onu avant toute décision sur une intervention militaire en Syrie. Les travaillistes lui ont demandé des "preuves convaincantes" de la responsabilité du régime de Bachar el-Assad.   

 

Ainsi, le premier ministre, dont le gouvernement avait lancé les préparatifs militaires en début de semaine, a dû revenir sur son intention de soutenir une intervention militaire immédiate, notamment en raison des réticences de l'opposition travailliste et de parlementaires de son propre parti.

 

Certains pays occidentaux étudient la possibilité d'une opération militaire contre la Syrie en réponse à l'utilisation présumée d'armes chimiques par les troupes gouvernementales dans la région de Damas.

Participants possibles à une intervention militaire en Syrie - source Ria Novisti

Participants possibles à une intervention militaire en Syrie - source Ria Novisti

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 16:50
Cameron se heurte au spectre de la guerre en Irak

28/08/2013 à 18:46 Par Florentin Collomp – LeFigaro.fr

 

Le premier ministre britannique s'est engagé à consulter le Parlement avant un engagement de la Grande-Bretagne dans une intervention militaire en Syrie.

 

David Cameron entame une partie très délicate avec le Parlement britannique, rappelé en session extraordinaire pour débattre jeudi après-midi d'une intervention militaire en Syrie. Le spectre de l'Irak hante les politiciens et l'opposition est grande au sein de la population à toute implication dans le conflit. Selon un sondage YouGov des 26 et 27 août, 50 % des Britanniques se disent opposés à des tirs de missiles par leur armée contre des cibles militaires en Syrie, une option soutenue par seulement 25 % des sondés.

 

«La population britannique a déjà vu ce film», souligne la députée travailliste Diane Abbott. Échaudés par l'entrée en guerre en Irak sous la houlette de Tony Blair il y a dix ans, les élus réclament des preuves de l'utilisation d'armes chimiques par Bachar el-Assad. Pour le quotidien The Independent, Cameron est «l'hériter de Blair».

 

Consignes de vote

 

Le débat à la Chambre des communes promet d'être grave et passionné. Les élus conservateurs ont reçu des consignes de vote pour soutenir le gouvernement, mais on connaît leur propension à marquer leur indépendance. L'opposition hésite. Si son leader, Ed Miliband, s'est rallié en début de semaine à la position de Cameron, le Parti travailliste a depuis pris ses distances en réclamant une action dans le cadre de l'ONU. C'est pour cela que Downing Street a déposé un projet de résolution devant le Conseil de sécurité «autorisant les mesures nécessaires» pour protéger les civils syriens. Cameron s'est efforcé de préciser qu'il ne s'agissait pas de s'immiscer dans la guerre civile, d'armer les rebelles, comme il en avait été question voici quelques mois, ni de viser à renverser Assad mais de le punir pour l'utilisation d'armes chimiques. Les quatre jours de délai, réclamés par Ban Ki-moon pour que les inspecteurs de l'ONU puissent finir leur travail, compliquent la perspective d'une intervention imminente.

 

Le chef du gouvernement britannique s'était engagé à consulter le Parlement sur la Syrie après qu'un groupe de quatre-vingts députés conservateurs avait signé une motion dans ce sens au début de l'été. Reste à savoir ce qu'il ferait en cas de vote négatif jeudi soir. Si cette consultation n'est pas contraignante, difficile d'imaginer un premier ministre passant outre le veto de la représentation nationale sur une question aussi sensible.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 16:30
Britain’s fire power

Strikes could be carried out by Tornado jets, armed with Storm Shadow cruise missiles, and helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious is already deployed in the Mediterranean as part of long-planned exercise Cougar 13

 

29 Aug 2013 telegraph.co.uk

 

With the possibility of intervention in Syria on the horizon, an arsenal of military might is available for use by defence chiefs.

 

The Royal Navy's Response Force

Britain’s fire power

The Royal Navy's Response Force Task Group is already deployed in the Mediterranean as part of long-planned exercise Cougar 13. The force includes helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious, type-23 frigates HMS Westminster and HMS Montrose, amphibious warship HMS Bulwark and six Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships.

 

Frigates

Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster – photo LA(Phot) Gary Weatherston, MOD 2012

Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster – photo LA(Phot) Gary Weatherston, MOD 2012

Type-23, or Duke-class, frigates are said to be the core of the frontline fleet. Carrying 185 personnel, they are 133m long, have a range of 7,800 nautical miles and a top speed of 28 knots. They carry Sea Wolf surface-to-air missile systems, the main line of defence against attacking aircraft and missiles, as well as a Harpoon anti-ship missile system and guns.

 

Nuclear submarines

HMS Trafalgar, pictured during Tomahawk missile trials - photo US DoD

HMS Trafalgar, pictured during Tomahawk missile trials - photo US DoD

Trafalgar-class nuclear submarine HMS Tireless is also believed to be in the area, after being spotted at the weekend in Gibraltar. The Trafalgar-class is a class of nuclear-powered fleet submarines and form the backbone of the Royal Navy's nuclear-powered "hunter-killer" submarine force. HMS Torbay, Trenchant, Talent, and Triumph are fitted with the Sonar 2076 system, described by the Navy as the most advanced sonar in service with any navy in the world and carry Tomahawk cruise missiles.

 

Tomahawk cruise missile

HMS Astute Fires a Tomahawk Cruise Missile (TLAM) During Testing Near the USA photo UK MoD

HMS Astute Fires a Tomahawk Cruise Missile (TLAM) During Testing Near the USA photo UK MoD

The Tomahawk IV, known in the Navy as TLAM (Tomahawk land attack cruise missile), allows submarines to strike at ground targets hundreds of miles inland with "pinpoint accuracy".

 

The 5.5 metre-long cruise missile, which weighs 1,300kg and has a range of more than 1,000 miles, is fitted to all Trafalgar and Astute-class submarines. It has been in use with the Submarine Service since the late 1990s and has been used in the Kosovo conflict and, more recently, in campaigns against the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.

 

After it is fired from a boat's torpedo tubes and reaches the surface, a booster rocket propels the missile skywards and it heads for its target at around 550mph, delivering a 1,000lb explosive warhead.

 

Tornado jets armed with cruise missiles

RAF Tornado of 617 Squadron – Picture RAF MOD 2012

RAF Tornado of 617 Squadron – Picture RAF MOD 2012

Strikes could also be carried out by Tornado jets armed with Storm Shadow cruise missiles.

 

Previously used in areas such as Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan and, most recently, Libya, the Tornado GR4 is a two-seat, day or night, all-weather attack aircraft which can fire a variety of weapons.

 

Powered by two Rolls-Royce RB 199 Mk 103 turbofan engines, it can fly automatically at low level when poor weather prevents visual flight and is equipped with infrared and night vision so it can be used at night in all weather.

 

All Tornado GR4s can carry the air launched anti-radiation missile (Alarm), which homes on to the emitted radiation of enemy radar systems and it's own defences have been upgraded to include state-of-the-art Asraam short range air-to-air missile. It is also equipped with a 27mm Mauser cannon which can fire 1,700 rounds per minute.

 

The GR4 typically carries up to a maximum of five Paveway IV laser-guided bombs, or two Storm Shadow cruise missiles, but can be configured with various weapons, targeting pods and reconnaissance pods.

 

Storm Shadow missiles

Tornado GR4 - Storm Shadow

Tornado GR4 - Storm Shadow

The Storm Shadow is a long-range, air-launched and conventionally armed missile.

 

It allows the Tornado to make "precision strikes" in poor weather with a greatly increased stand-off range from the target area.

 

Equipped with a powerful warhead, it is designed to attack important hardened targets and infrastructure such as buried and protected command centres.

 

Mission data, including target details, is loaded into the missile's main computer before the aircraft leaves. Then, after it is fired, its wings deploy and the missile navigates its way to the target at low level.

 

On its final approach it climbs, discards its nose cone and uses an advanced infrared seeker to match the target area with stored imagery. This process is repeated as the missile dives onto the target, using higher-resolution imagery, to ensure the maximum accuracy.

 

Aircrafts

Typhoon Jet Taking Off from RAF Coningsby photo UK MoD

Typhoon Jet Taking Off from RAF Coningsby photo UK MoD

Britain has also deployed various aircraft to Cyprus to protect Sovereign Base Areas in the overseas territory.

 

Six RAF Typhoons have been sent to RAF Akrotiri in a "defensive counter air" role.

 

The RAF's four frontline Typhoon Squadrons are based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and RAF Leuchars in Fife, and each squadron operates up to 15 aircraft.

 

Typhoons have two Eurojet EJ200 turbojets. They can reach a maximum speed of 1.8 Mach and an altitude of 55,000ft.

 

The jets sent to Cyprus are armed with advanced, medium range air-to-air missiles (Amraam), Asraam and a Mauser cannon for close combat.

 

Air-to-air missiles

Eurofighter test firing the AMRAAM air-to-air missile.

Eurofighter test firing the AMRAAM air-to-air missile.

The Amraam, which can be used in all weather, is launched from a range of 20 to 30 nautical miles then guided by its own navigation system, while receiving command-guidance updates from the launch aircraft . It is equipped with a radar proximity fuse which detonates the high-explosive fragmentation warhead at a pre-set distance from the target.

 

In short-range mode, it can be launched "active-off-the-rail" when the missile's radar detects the target immediately after launch.

 

ASRAAM AIM-132

ASRAAM AIM-132

The Asraam is a high-speed, highly manoeuvrable, heat-seeking air-to-air missile designed as a "fire-and-forget" weapon which can counter things like infrared countermeasures.

 

Typically, it is slaved to a target either visually or by the launch aircraft's onboard sensors. After its release, the missile accelerates to speeds faster than Mach 3 whilst being guided to the target using its infrared seeker. Detonation of the high-explosive fragmentation warhead is achieved by either a laser proximity fuse or an impact fuse.

 

Britain’s fire power

The Mauser BK-27 is a 27mm cannon fitted to Tornado jets for air-to-air or air-to-ground firing. The cannon is a single-barrel, high-performance breech-cylinder gun and can fire at a rate of 1000 or 1700 rounds per minute.

 

Airbones surveillance

 

RAF E-3D Sentry photo UK MoD

RAF E-3D Sentry photo UK MoD

The RAF operates seven E-3D Sentry aircraft in the airborne surveillance and command-and-control role.

 

Based at RAF Waddington, they are operated by Nos 8 and 23 Squadrons as the UK's contribution to the Nato Airborne Early Warning and Control Force.

 

The Sentry's roles are air and sea surveillance, airborne command and control, and weapons control, and it can also operate as an extensive communications platform.

 

It cruises at 30,000ft and 400 knots and its high-performance radar, housed in the black radome, can separate airborne and maritime targets from ground and sea clutter.

 

One Sentry flying at 30,000ft can scan at distances of over 300 nautical miles, can detect low-flying targets or maritime surface contacts within 215 nautical miles and can detect medium-level airborne targets at ranges beyond 280 nautical miles.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 15:50
6 RAF Typhoon interceptor fast jets are being deployed to Akrotiri in Cyprus this morning

29 August 2013 raf.mod.uk

 

As part of ongoing contingency planning, 6 RAF Typhoon interceptor fast jets are deploying this morning to Akrotiri in Cyprus.

 

This is a precautionary measure, specifically aimed at protecting UK interests and the defence of our Sovereign Base Areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region. This is a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only. They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria.

 

The Prime Minister has made clear no decision has been taken on the UK’s response to the situation in Syria and there will be a Commons vote before any direct military involvement.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 11:30
Gen. Nicholas Houghton British Chief Defence of Staff with Gen. Jean Kahwaji Lebanese Army Commander

Gen. Nicholas Houghton British Chief Defence of Staff with Gen. Jean Kahwaji Lebanese Army Commander

29 August 2013 Ministry of Defence and Foreign & Commonwealth Office

 

British Chief of Defence Staff held his first meeting with Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Kahwaji

 

On his first foreign tour as Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton visited Lebanon to meet Army Commander General Kahwaji on 27 August.

 

The two Generals discussed their shared intention to continue the current high level of engagement between their Armed Forces. Speaking during his visit, General Houghton said:

 

“I commend the Lebanese Armed Forces for their commitment to maintaining Lebanon’s stability, under difficult conditions. On my watch, the UK will continue its staunch support to Lebanese stability. We are helping the LAF to keep the Lebanese people safe, maintain stability and protect Lebanon’s borders, through a £10 million ($15 million) programme in support of the LAF’s five-year Capabilities Development Plan, as my predecessor General Richards announced in July. In my new role as Chief of Defence Staff, I look forward to deepening the enduring defence partnership between our nations.”

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 11:30
photo UK MoD

photo UK MoD

29 August 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

6 RAF Typhoon interceptor fast jets are being deployed to Akrotiri in Cyprus this morning.

 

As part of ongoing contingency planning, 6 RAF Typhoon interceptor fast jets are deploying this morning to Akrotiri in Cyprus.

 

This is a precautionary measure, specifically aimed at protecting UK interests and the defence of our Sovereign Base Areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region. This is a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only. They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria.

 

The Prime Minister has made clear no decision has been taken on the UK’s response to the situation in Syria and there will be a Commons vote before any direct military involvement.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 09:50
Londres repousse son intervention en Syrie

MOSCOU, 29 août - RIA Novosti

 

Hier soir, Londres a pris la décision inattendue de reporter son intervention en Syrie, écrit jeudi 29 août le quotidien Rossiïskaïa gazeta.

 

Ce coup de théâtre fait suite à l'avertissement du parti travailliste d'opposition, qui a annoncé vouloir s’opposer la décision d'intervenir en Syrie lors du vote d’aujourd'hui à la Chambre des communes du parlement britannique. Cet ultimatum a été notifié mercredi soir au premier ministre David Cameron par Ed Miliband, chef du parti travailliste. Ce dernier a exigé du premier ministre des garanties selon lesquelles la décision d'intervenir serait prise par le Royaume-Uni uniquement à l'issue de l'enquête des inspecteurs de l'Onu en Syrie et seulement quand, en tenant compte des conclusions de l'Onu, la Chambre des communes organisera un deuxième vote.

 

La chaîne britannique BBC a annoncé mercredi soir que la première réaction de Cameron fut de refuser les conditions avancées par Miliband mais moins de deux heures plus tard le bon sens a pris le dessus et le gouvernement a proposé un plan d'action précis. A savoir : le Royaume-Uni est prêt à attendre jusqu'à ce que les experts de l'Onu présentent leurs conclusions concernant l'utilisation de l'arme chimique en Syrie. Seulement après l'adoption d’une résolution à l'Onu, le gouvernement britannique demandera alors l'approbation des députés pour une intervention en Syrie. A la suite de quoi Westminster votera pour la deuxième fois concernant la question fatidique : faut-il intervenir ou non ? Tout cela ne devrait pas arriver avant la semaine prochaine. Quant à la réunion du parlement prévue aujourd'hui, elle n'est pas annulée pour autant. Cependant les députés ne voteront pas sur l'intervention en Syrie et évoqueront une question plus large : la "réaction humanitaire".

 

Les travaillistes ne sont pas seuls à avoir poussé Cameron à faire marche-arrière : l'opinion publique a également joué son rôle. Les généraux britanniques ont exprimé des doutes quant à l'idée de débarquer en Syrie avec des missiles. L'opinion publique d'Albion est tout aussi découragée. Un sondage auprès de 2 000 Britanniques réalisé par le centre YouGov a montré que seulement 25% étaient favorables à une frappe en Syrie, contre 50% d’opposants. Pour cette raison, les mœurs du public ont été considérées comme "profondément sceptiques".

 

La concession de Cameron est perçu par certains commentateurs comme dégradante pour le premier ministre. Cela reste discutable. Savoir écouter l'opinion du public lui fait honneur. Notamment sachant que cette décision met une distance entre Londres et son "cousin" transatlantique. Selon des sources bien informées, l'intervention militaire en Syrie était prévue ce week-end. De cette manière, si les USA proclamaient la nécessité d'une attaque militaire pour samedi ou dimanche, ils devraient commencer sans le soutien de la Grande-Bretagne qui pourrait (rien n'est encore sûr) rejoindre l'aventure plus tard. Ou déciderait de ne pas s'y joindre du tout.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 09:32
UK Sets Out Options for Syria Action

August 29th, 2013 By British Forces Broadcasting Service - defencetalk.com

 

British military officers will join the Prime Minister for talks later, to discuss the UK’s response to last week’s chemical weapons attack in Syria.

 

The National Security Council, which also includes the Defence Secretary and intelligence chiefs, will meet at 12.

 

David Cameron set out the options he is considering for action against Syria in a telephone call to United States president Barack Obama last night, ahead of a meeting with military chiefs.

 

In the last hour he said Britain will ask the UN security council for backing.

 

US forces “are ready to go” and the UK’s National Security Council (NSC) will today consider military plans drawn up in response to last week’s chemical weapons attack that is claimed to have killed more than 350 Syrians.

 

The Prime Minister warned yesterday that the world cannot stand idly by and announced he was recalling Parliament to vote on Britain’s response.

 

But he faces opposition to intervention from a number of his own backbenchers and polling shows the public is deeply reluctant for the UK to become embroiled in military action. Former military chiefs have also issued stark warnings about the direction Mr Cameron is taking, warning that even a “surgical” missile strike could end up dragging the UK into deeper action. The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged MPs not to rush their decision, warning of the “unforeseeable ramifications”.

 

Mr Cameron and Mr Obama are in no doubt that Bashar Assad’s regime was responsible for the toxic assault on the outskirts of Damascus, Downing Street said.

 

A No 10 spokesman said: “The PM spoke to President Obama last night to further discuss the serious response to last week’s chemical weapons attack in Syria. Ahead of today’s NSC, it was an opportunity for the PM to hear the latest US thinking on the issue and to set out the options being considered by the Government. Both leaders agreed that all the information available confirmed a chemical weapons attack had taken place, noting that even the Iranian president and Syrian regime had conceded this. And they both agreed they were in no doubt that the Assad regime was responsible.

 

“Regime forces were carrying out a military operation to regain that area from the opposition at the time, and there is no evidence that the opposition has the capability to deliver such a chemical weapons attack. The PM confirmed that the Government had not yet taken a decision on the specific nature of our response, but that it would be legal and specific to the chemical weapons attack.”

 

Mr Cameron has insisted that any intervention in Syria would not be about the conflict itself, but preventing the use of chemical weapons by any regime and would be “proportionate, have to be legal, would have to specifically be about deterring the use of chemical weapons”. He said: “Let me stress to people, this is not about getting involved in a Middle Eastern war or changing our stance in Syria, or going further into that conflict. It’s about chemical weapons. Their use is wrong and the world should not stand idly by.”

 

The NSC includes Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Theresa May and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg among its members. Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned that Britain cannot let the use of chemical weapons to go unchallenged, saying Britain “cannot allow diplomatic paralysis to be a shield” for Assad.

 

Labour leader Ed Miliband indicated yesterday that his party would consider supporting international action, “but only on the basis that it was legal, that it was specifically limited to deterring the future use of chemical weapons, and that any actions contemplated had clear and achievable goals”. The Opposition has made clear to Mr Cameron that its support depends on assurances that fresh efforts will be made to secure United Nations backing. A senior source said: “As part of that legal justification, Labour is seeking the direct involvement of the UN through evidence from the weapons inspectors and consideration by the security council.”

 

While political momentum towards intervention mounts, the British public has yet to be persuaded. A YouGov survey for The Sun revealed that nearly three-quarters of people oppose the deployment of British troops to Syria, and a majority of 3-1 believe the Government should be bound by Parliament’s vote tomorrow.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 09:17
RAF Akrotiri base - photo UK MoD

RAF Akrotiri base - photo UK MoD

29 août 2013 à 07:36 Par RFI

 

Les préparatifs s'accélèrent en vue d'une attaque contre les infrastructures militaires du régime de Damas. Les frappes aériennes pourraient occuper une place importante dans le dispositif militaire et la base aérienne britannique d'Akrotiri, à Chypre, est idéalement située.

 

Les bases aériennes qui sont citées en premier, lorsqu'on évoque d'éventuelles frappes en Syrie, sont celles d'Incirlik et d'Izmir en Turquie, ainsi qu'une autre située en Jordanie. Mais des articles de la presse britannique ont fait également mention de la base aérienne britannique d'Akrotiri, située sur l'île de Chypre, à seulement 160 kilomètres de la Syrie.

 

Des pilotes d'un vol commercial auraient ainsi observé la présence d'avions de transport militaire C-130 sur la base, et le voisinage a relevé à son tour qu'une activité supérieure à la normale s'y déroule depuis trois jours.

 

Mais tous les spécialistes des questions de défense ne confirment pas qu'il s'agit là des signes avant-coureurs d'une opération militaire imminente. Ils font remarquer que la base d'Akrotiri sert surtout de point d'appui et de ravitaillement, notamment pour le rapatriement du matériel militaire d'Afghanistan.

 

Elle accueille également de nombreuses installations électroniques d'écoute. Il faut dire aussi que les autorités chypriotes ont déclaré qu'elles n'avaient reçu aucune information concernant une éventuelle utilisation de la base d'Akrotiri pour une attaque contre la Syrie.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 07:50
The UK's Response Force Task Group deployed on Cougar 13 [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Arron Hoare, Crown Copyright]

The UK's Response Force Task Group deployed on Cougar 13 [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Arron Hoare, Crown Copyright]

28 August 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

A large-scale exercise which will see more than 600 Royal Marines hone their skills alongside their Albanian counterparts is now underway.

Exercise Albanian Lion is the first major outing for the Response Force Task Group (RFTG) – a Royal Naval force comprising 4 warships and 5 support vessels which are exercising in the Mediterranean and Gulf over the next 3 months under the name Cougar 13.

The exercise will see the Lead Commando Group of 42 Commando, the Royal Marines unit that stands ready to react to events anywhere in the world, carry out a series of mock assaults on enemy positions near Bise designed to improve their core amphibious warfare skills.

This will be the third time the 2 forces have worked together since the RFTG was formed after the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Royal Marines from 42 Commando
Royal Marines from 42 Commando carry out a mock assault on an enemy position [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Sean Clee, Crown copyright]

Ahead of the exercise, Colonel Kevin Oliver, Deputy Commander of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, met with Major General Xhemal Gjunkshi, Chief of General Staff of the Albanian Armed Forces, at Tirana International Airport.

Colonel Oliver said:

Building on from last year’s exercise we have enhanced our contribution by providing a larger force comprising fast jets, helicopters, assault boats and armoured personnel carriers for ground manoeuvre and force protection.

We already have reconnaissance teams in place, as we would in a real-life scenario, who will guide in the landing force.

Badges of the Royal Marines and their Albanian counterparts
Royal Marines are training alongside their Albanian counterparts [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Sean Clee, Crown copyright]

Once the forces have landed they will push forward through enemy terrain while being supported by the RFTG ships which can sustain them logistically and cover their progress with firepower should that be required:

Albania has some of the best training areas ever used by our Task Group,” added Colonel Oliver. “We are extremely grateful for their use and for the chance to work alongside Albanian forces, sharing the experience of operations.

The Cougar 13 deployment will operate in and around the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Gulf and the Horn of Africa. It involves exercising with partner nations and will demonstrate the capacity of UK Armed Forces to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world as part of the RFTG.

Royal Marines from 42 Commando taking part in a river crossing
Royal Marines from 42 Commando taking part in a river crossing [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Sean Clee, Crown copyright]

The RFTG is commanded by Commodore Paddy McAlpine from the fleet flagship, HMS Bulwark, and is the UK’s high readiness maritime force at 5 days’ notice to respond to any contingency tasking including humanitarian disaster relief or international military intervention.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 07:50
UK-Polish Group Unveils New Vehicle Demonstrator

An artist's rendering of a concept vehicle being developed by Obrum, part of the Polish Defence Holding group. The demonstrator will be unveiled at the upcoming MSPO exhibition in Poland next month. (Polish Defence Holding)

 

Aug. 28, 2013 - By ANDREW CHUTER – Defense News

 

LONDON — The BAE Systems-Polish Defence Holding’s team competing for an upcoming requirement from the Polish Army for a family of light tanks and infantry fighting vehicles has released a sneak preview of a concept demonstrator they plan to unveil at the upcoming MSPO defense equipment show.

 

The concept vehicle — developed by Obrum, part of the Polish Defence Holding group — features an unmanned turret sporting a 120mm gun mounted on a chassis, drawing heavily on CV90 mobility and protection technology provided by BAE’s Hagglunds operation in Sweden.

 

The vehicle will be a centerpiece of Polish Defence Holding’s stand at the MSPO exhibition, which opens in Keilce, Poland, on Sept 2.

 

BAE and the state-owned Polish Defence Holding, formerly known as the Bulmar Group, announced a teaming deal in late May to compete for a Polish Army requirement for hundreds of light tanks and infantry fighting vehicles using a universal tracked platform.

 

Formal specifications for the tracked vehicle requirement are expected to be released by the Polish Defense Ministry toward the end of the year, with a requirement for the first delivery sometime in 2018.

 

BAE officials said the modular design of the demonstrator is intended to be flexible and help stimulate debate as Poland heads toward issuing a formal specification.

 

Despite unexpected Polish government revenue shortfalls this year, which could result in some trimming of the defense budget spending on the military, funding remains robust with the portion of cash going to equipment increasing.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 07:50
HMS Vigilant fires an unarmed Trident II ballistic missile photo UK MoD

HMS Vigilant fires an unarmed Trident II ballistic missile photo UK MoD

08/28/2013  Steve Coltman - defenceiq.com

 

Recently the MoD published its long-awaited Review of Alternatives to Trident, written at the behest of the Liberal Democrats. It says that cruise missiles might have been a viable alternative but for two things – the existing Trident warheads are not suitable for use in cruise missiles and that it would take 24 years to develop a new warhead.

 

This is such a long timescale that the Vanguard-class subs would have been retired before the new system was available, necessitating the purchase of two new Trident SSNBNs as a stop-gap and therefore wiping out any cost-savings. 

 

I find the point about it taking 24 years to develop a new warhead to be particularly astonishing, but reading between the lines of the report perhaps one might  wonder if the UK hasn’t lost the ability to design new warheads altogether.

 

So far as the suitability of existing warheads to go in cruise missiles is concerned, the case rests on two points.

  1. In the case of horizontally-launched missiles, these would have to be stored in the torpedo room in close proximity to the crew, and this would necessitate the development of a low-radiation warhead. I don’t suppose we can argue with that point. Developing a low-radiation warhead would take even longer than 24 years.
  2. The report also says that the existing Trident warheads are too delicate and would not stand up to the manhandling that cruise-missiles are subjected to. One can imagine that horizontally-launched cruise-missiles manhandled down into the torpedo room might be subject to a few knocks but in the case of vertically-launched cruise missiles, why should the handling of the warheads be any different to what they experience in vertically-launched Trident missiles?

 

What the report did not say was that the warheads are too big to fit inside a 21” diameter cruise missile. Considering 12 warheads plus decoys have to fit inside a Trident, I suppose it is reasonable to assume the warheads are not that large. Had the Trident warheads been too large for a cruise missile I am sure the report would have said so.

 

Comparing vertically-launched cruise-missiles with Trident, the only difference in what shocks the warhead would experience post-launch, when the cruise-missile cants over to follow a horizontal course to its target while the Trident missile continues onwards, upwards and then downwards on a ballistic trajectory. The report is quite adamant that the Trident warhead would not be suitable for cruise-missile use, but how do we know that? If Aldermaston has lost the people who can design warheads, they might also lack the people who can make an informed judgement on this issue too. It should be easy enough to put some sensors in a Tomahawk and measure the acceleration, g-forces and shocks that a cruise-missile warhead might be subject to in a real launch, then take an existing warhead and subject it to the same (or worse) shocks to see what, if anything, breaks? Has the MoD ever done this? If not, how can it be so sure the Trident warhead would not be suitable?

 

Let us suppose that Trident warheads are indeed suitable for use in vertically-launched cruise missiles – what then? The main capital cost of the like-for-like replacement of Trident is in the four big submarines, with a quoted coast of £11-14 billion. At an guesstimate, we would have to reserve around £2-3 billion to develop a new indigenous cruise missile, which would still leave us with £10 billion.

 

Here are some important points to consider:

  • How many of the seven planned Astute-class boats can be fitted with vertical launch tubes, and why were they not part of the original design anyway? The keel has already been laid for the sixth boat so it may now be too late to change its design and incorporate vertical tubes. The worst case scenario is that only the seventh boat onwards could have vertical tubes fitted and I presume it is too much to contemplate chopping existing subs in two and inserting a new section – although the Spanish are contemplating something similar for their new subs.
  • We will need more Astutes beyond the planned seven, which may need to be supplemented by cheaper conventional boats. Astutes currently cost £1.2 billion each, while the biggest and best conventional boats are about £500 million each. So, three extra Astutes, with the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth having vertical tubes, would be £3.6 billion.
  • Half a dozen big conventional boats, which would also be fitted with vertical tubes, at £500 million each is £3 billion. We now have a submarine fleet of 16 boats, much better than at present.
  • A dozen frigate-sized OPV / patrol frigates, like the French ‘Floreal’ class or the Dutch ‘Holland’ class – would be about £1.5 billion. This would quickly and dramatically ease the Navy’s surface ship numbers problem.
  • And what about two more Type 45s? Six isn’t very many as only two are on operations at any given time. At £700 million each, that’s another £1.4 billion.
  • With the remaining £500 million, perhaps we could buy another big amphibious ship? Or more MARS replenishment ships?

 

This is just the author’s preference of course. Many other shopping lists are possible but it is clear from this ‘fantasy navy’ exercise that the opportunity cost of Trident is pretty high. And the case for the like-for-like replacement of Trident rests on the assertion that Trident warheads are too delicate to be used in cruise missiles, and that it would take 24 years to develop a warhead suitable for cruise missiles (despite France and Israel already having such warheads). It is very difficult for politicians to argue with such assertions, however sceptical we may be.

 

Finally - do we really need a deterrent in this day and age anyway? A good question, but probably a redundant one, I doubt if anyone could get unilateral disarmament through parliament before 2016.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 07:40
lyra-10-mobile

lyra-10-mobile

BASILDON, England, Aug. 28 (UPI)

 

Britain's Selex ES has partnered with Russia's NIIDAR to promote surveillance systems produced in Russia and Italy.

 

The cooperative agreement between Selex ES, a subsidiary of Italy's Finmeccanica company, and NIIDAR (Scientific and Research Institute for Long-Distance Radio Communications), a Russian open joint stock company, was announced Tuesday.

 

The two companies have so far identified two products for international promotion: Selex ES's Lyra family and NIIDAR's Laguna over-the-horizon, integrated maritime surveillance system.

 

Selex ES said its Lyra radar line family is designed to meet requirements in the security domain, including integration into major systems for homeland protection, vessel traffic services and field deployment in a man-portable radar configuration.

 

NIIDAR's Laguna civil use radar is the second product. Its designed for law and order operations and for the surveillance of the exclusive economic zone of coastal states.

 

"The agreement will enhance the capabilities of both companies in their domestic markets as well as in the wider international marketplace," Selex ES said.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 07:35
Scottish cavalry takes the reins in Kabul

28 August 2013 army.mod.uk

 

Scotland’s most senior, and only cavalry, regiment has officially taken control of the force protection of more than 500 British Armed Forces personnel in Kabul.

 

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (SCOTS DG) took over as the outgoing commander, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Kitchener, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), handed control to the incoming commander Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Bartholomew.

 

SCOTS DG will provide essential support for all those working in Kabul, including transport and accommodation.

 

Lt Col ‘Barty’ Bartholomew, a veteran of the campaign in Iraq and highly experienced on the UK’s campaign in Afghanistan, described his thoughts on the months ahead:

 

“It’s a hugely exciting and challenging role. The Regiment is well-trained, prepared and ready for its tour of duty in Kabul. At a crucial part of the campaign, the Regiment is well placed to support and enable the military effort in the nation’s capital.

 

 

“All of the Regiment are up for the task ahead and look forward to making a difference in the coming months.”

 

Enduring UK commitment

 

The UK has maintained a presence in Kabul since NATO forces deployed there in 2001. Currently, British troops fulfil an array of tasks in the city including advising and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and providing military assistance to the British Embassy.

 

In June this year, the ANSF formally took over for security for the whole of Afghanistan and UK support is increasingly focused at the institutional level.

 

In addition to their force protection role, the SCOTS DG also has a number of troops committed to the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) in Camp Qargha, an enduring UK commitment, which will continue to train the next generation of Afghan officers beyond 2014 when combat operations in Afghanistan ends.

 

 

"challenging and rewarding"

 

Outgoing commander, Lt Col Kitchener said of the last sixth months: “I expected the tour to be a challenging and rewarding time in my career and it has certainly lived up to that expectation. I now leave knowing that the unit’s mission and reputation has been handed over to a very capable unit – the SCOTS DG.

 

“It has been an honour to serve as the Commanding Officer of the Kabul Joint Support Unit, providing force protection and support to UK personnel across the city for the last six months.”

 

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards will complete a six-month operational tour (their 3rd in Afghanistan) before returning to their home base of Bad Fallingbostel in Germany.

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28 août 2013 3 28 /08 /août /2013 11:20
Cobham wins US Army Contract Worth up to $7.1M

Aug 28, 2013 ASDNews Source : Cobham Plc

 

    To Overhaul, Upgrade AH-64 Apache Nitrogen Inerting Unit

 

Cobham has been awarded a contract by the US Army worth up to $7.1 million to overhaul and upgrade Nitrogen Inerting Units (NIUs) for the AH-64 Apache helicopter. The work will be performed by Cobham Life Support in Davenport, Iowa, beginning in 2013.

 

In September 2012, Cobham received a five year Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract valued at some $15 million to manufacture OBIGGS NIUs for US Army AH-64 Apache helicopters. The OBIGGS fulfils a critical aircraft safety system role by displacing fuel tank vapors with inert nitrogen gas, reducing the risk of explosion. More than 1,500 Apache helicopters with Cobham NIUs have been delivered worldwide.

 

Cobham Life Support president Kelly Coffield said: “This award reflects Cobham's unrivalled decades of experience in the design, development, delivery and support of fuel tank inerting systems, ranging from depot repair to equipping and training customers to fully maintaining products at their own facilities.”

 

Cobham remains the world-wide leader in military OBIGGS providing solutions since 1985 on more than 2,400 aircraft flying today, ranging from military helicopters, military transport aircraft like the C-17 Globe Master, to regional and commercial platforms such as Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Cobham OBIGGS systems have logged more than six million flight hours total experience including 12 international customers. Cobham can tailor the modular range of proven OBIGGS to fit a wide range of applications.

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28 août 2013 3 28 /08 /août /2013 07:50
HMS Bulwark deployed on Cougar 13 [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Arron Hoare, Crown copyright]

HMS Bulwark deployed on Cougar 13 [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Arron Hoare, Crown copyright]

27 August 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

Marines from the UK and Portugal have taken part in a training exercise on HMS Bulwark to share knowledge of amphibious operations.

 

The 38 Portuguese marines received a demonstration of the equipment used by the ship’s Royal Marines assault squadron as she sailed from Lisbon, including the ‘rapid beach profiling system’ used by the Amphibious Beach Unit (Light).

The marines were also given an insight into the work of 3 Commando Brigade on HMS Bulwark. The training session culminated in a troop beach assault by 2 landing craft.

Lieutenant Mario Vilaca of the Portuguese Navy said of the training session:

It has been a very fruitful day because this has been a great opportunity to improve our amphibious knowledge.

The exercise formed part of Cougar 13, an annual deployment to the Mediterranean and Gulf region.

A troop beach assault
The troop beach assault carried out by both British and Portuguese marines [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Arron Hoare, Crown copyright]

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Maltby, the officer in command of 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, said:

It was clear that the Portuguese marines, drawn from several different units, thoroughly enjoyed the day and gained a good understanding of the tactics, techniques and procedures that both 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines and HMS Bulwark employ when landing embarked military forces on a beach.

It is hoped that we can work with the Portuguese marines at some point in the future to better understand their amphibious capability and equipment and exchange ideas about developing joint procedures.

In the meantime, we look forward to the rest of Cougar 13 and the further exchange opportunities with other nations’ amphibious forces.

HMS Bulwark is the flagship of the Response Force Task Group (RFTG), commanded by Commodore Paddy McAlpine.

The RFTG is the United Kingdom’s high readiness maritime force, made up of ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, which is at 5 days’ notice to act in response to any contingency tasking including humanitarian disaster relief or international military intervention.

Cougar 13 allows the UK’s maritime assets to exercise with multinational forces in the Gulf region, enhancing interoperability by working with partner forces to promote the UK’s interests overseas and demonstrating the government’s long-term commitment to security in the Middle East.

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