Archive for the ‘British’ Category

Somai Pirates: Crew Makes Daring Escape

November 29, 2008

Two British ship security guards and their Irish colleague escaped kidnapping on Friday by jumping into the sea as Somali pirates hijacked a Singaporean tanker in the Gulf of Aden – the latest in a soaring spate of attacks.

By Mike Pflanz in Nairobi
The Telegraph (UK)
The men leapt overboard and were rescued by a German navy helicopter before being flown to the safety of a French frigate nearby.

At least another 25 of the crew, from India and Bangladesh, were still on the Liberian-flagged Biscaglia last night, a chemical tanker which was sailing through the pirate-infested waters between Somalia and Yemen.

The three worked for Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions, a shipping protection firm headquartered in Poole, Dorset.

“APMSS are aware of an incident that occurred this morning on a chemical tanker Biscaglia,” said Nick Davis, a former pilot who set up the company earlier this year.

Somali hostages - British crew jump overboard as pirates hijack another tanker off Somalia

The men, who were rescued by the German navy, board a helicopter from the French Frigate to begin their journey home Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

“We have been informed by coalition military authorities that three of our unarmed security staff were rescued from the water by a coalition helicopter and are currently on board a coalition warship in the Gulf of Aden.

“We have established procedures in place to deal with this and are working hard with the ship owners to assist in this fast developing situation. Our prime concern is the safety of all the people involved.”

Five pirates in a small open speedboat approached the Biscaglia in broad daylight yesterday morning and succeeded in boarding despite the security detachment.

Mr Davis’s firm uses a variety of non-lethal tools to keep pirates away, including audio and magnetic acoustic devices which broadcast messages and even debilitating sonic squeals over long distances.

It is not clear if this equipment was deployed on the Biscaglia.

Noel Choong, head of the piracy reporting centre at the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, confirmed that the ship sent a distress call at 0447 GMT.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/piracy/
3533644/British-crew-jump-overboard-as-pirates-
hijack-another-tanker-off-Somalia.html

British Troops Forced to “Make Do” Killed in Afghanistan by Taliban

November 15, 2008

Capt David Hicks, who was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry, told his girlfriend Nicola Billen that his men were “sitting ducks” at their makeshift base just days before he was killed in an attack.

In letters to Miss Billen, seen by The Daily Telegraph, he repeatedly spoke of his “frustration” that requests for equipment went unheard.

On several occasions he had asked for a doctor for be sent to the remote outpost called Inkerman base because they were being attacked twice a day by the Taliban.

But it was not until the officer was killed while leading the counterattack against the enemy on Aug 11 last year that a doctor was permanently stationed at the base.

By Thomas Harding
Defence Correspondent
The Telegraph, London

The coroner at Capt Hick’s inquest earlier this week criticised the Ministry of Defence for forcing troops to “make do” on the front line after the court also heard that the sand-bagged fortifications were poor.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3459999/Officer-warned-of-equipment-
shortages-on-the-frontline-in-letters-to-his-fiancee.html

British troops out of Iraq by end of 2009

November 14, 2008

All British troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year, Iraq’s national security advisor said on Friday, days before Baghdad was expected to vote on a controversial US military pact.

“By the end of next year there will be no British troops in Iraq. By the end of 2009,” Muwafaq al-Rubaie said, adding that negotiations between London and Baghdad on the pull-out had begun two weeks ago.

AFP

A defence ministry spokesman in London said in response that Britain has “no timetable” for the withdrawal of its roughly 4,000 troops in Iraq, the vast majority of which are based in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

 

“At the minute, we have no timetable,” the spokesman told AFP.

“We are hopefully making progress, we have made progress in Basra, and we are on course to meet the prime minister’s fundamental change of mission in 2009,” the spokesman said, reiterating previously-stated plans.

Baghdad has been racing to secure separate agreements with both Britain and the United States to replace the UN mandate currently governing the presence of foreign troops in the country, which expires December 31.

Iraq’s cabinet was expected to vote on the so-called Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a wide-ranging US military pact, either Saturday or Sunday. The two sides have been wrangling over the document for months.

 

Rubaie insisted however that the agreement Iraq sought with the British was simpler and would not take as much time to complete.

“It will be a much shorter agreement with the UK,” Rubaie said. “And it progresses quite nicely. It’s much shorter and much simpler.”

He added that by the middle of next year there would be a “dramatic” reduction of British troops.

Read the rest:
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=081114152119.wticcipl&show_article=1

Ministers must not resort to ‘cheap options’ on defence, says British Army chief

November 14, 2008

Ministers must not take “cheap options” when it comes to equipping the Armed Forces to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the head of the British Army warns today.

By Con Coughlin
The Telegraph (London)
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In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, General Sir Richard Dannatt says the Government has an “absolute responsibility” to provide the best training and equipment for the British men and women serving on the front line.

“If you are committing young people to battle they have to be given the best, and when circumstances change they have to be given the best again,” he said.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt warns ministers must not take

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt warns ministers must not take “cheap options” when it comes to equipping the Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

His comments came as the Ministry of Defence announced the death of two Royal Marines in southern Afghanistan, taking the British death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan to 300.

Gen Dannatt, who will retire from the Army next year, has been outspoken on defence issues since taking up his post in 2006.

In 2006, he warned that the Army could ‘break’ if British soldiers were kept too long in Iraq.

And in a leaked report last year, Gen Dannatt warned that years of Government under-funding and overstretch had left troops feeling “devalued, angry and suffering from Iraq fatigue.”

With Britain now preparing to withdraw its 4,000 troops from Iraq next year, pressure is mounting – from sources including Barack Obama, the US president-elect — for more British forces to be sent to Afghanistan.

But Gen Dannatt said that no more British troops should go to Afghanistan, insisting that the Army only has the manpower and resources to fight one foreign war at a time.

“The reason the Army has been under such pressure for the past three years is that we are committed to fighting two wars when we are only structured to fight one,” said Gen. Dannatt. “If we were to move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan we would simply replicate the problems.”

He said that many improvements had been made in equipping front line troops during the past two years, but serious consideration needed to be given as to whether it was sufficient that only 5 per cent of the government’s budget was devoted to defence spending.

“Is the amount the government spends on defence the right proportion?” he asked. “There are no cheap options on defence.”

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/
defence/3454085/Ministers-must-not-resort-to-
cheap-options-on-defence-says-British-Army-chief.html

Britain: Two-Thirds Polled Want Troops Out of Afghanistan

November 13, 2008

More than two thirds of people in Britain believe that UK troops should leave Afghanistan within a year, a poll has found.

By John Bingham
The Telegraph, London
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Opposition to the deployment was highest among young people, with three quarters of 18 to 24-year-olds calling for a withdrawal.

Soldiers stand to attention outside St Peter's Church in Colchester, before a memorial service to honour the soldiers from the regiment who were killed in action in Afghanistan

Above: Soldiers stand to attention outside St Peter’s Church in Colchester, before a memorial service to honour the soldiers from the regiment who were killed in action in Afghanistan Photo: PA

The survey, carried out by ICM for the BBC, comes at a time when the Government faces pressure to increase the number of troops in the country.

Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai is meeting Gordon Brown in Downing Street for discussions expected to include a call for more international forces.

Barack Obama, the US President-Elect, is expected to call for Britain to increase its deployment to Afghanistan in support of a “surge” strategy.

British forces in Afghanistan now number just over 8,000, with most operating in the troubled Helmand Province in the south.

A total of 124 British servicemen and women have died in the country since the start of the US-led operation to topple the Taliban regime in late 2001, following the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

But the vast majority of British fatalities have happened in the last two-and-a-half years since the start of the mission to the south.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/
afghanistan/3450783/Two-thirds-want-British-tr
oops-out-of-Afghanistan-poll.html

Race, Obama, World: After U.S. Breakthrough, Europe Looks in Mirror

November 12, 2008

In the general European euphoria over the election of Barack Obama, there is the beginning of self-reflection about Europe’s own troubles with racial integration. Many are asking if there could be a French, British, German or Italian Obama, and everyone knows the answer is no, not anytime soon.

By Steven Erlanger
The New York Times

It is risky to make racial comparisons between America and Europe, given all the historical and cultural differences. But race had long been one reason that Europeans, harking back to the days when famous American blacks like Josephine Baker and James Baldwin found solace in France, looked down on the United States, even as Europe developed postcolonial racial problems of its own.

“They always said, ‘You think race relations are bad here in France, check out the U.S.,’ ” said Mohamed Hamidi, former editor of the Bondy Blog, founded after the 2005 riots in the heavily immigrant suburbs of Paris.

“But that argument can no longer stand,” he said.

For many immigrants to Europe, Mr. Obama’s victory is “a small revolution” toward better overall treatment of minorities, said Nadia Azieze, 31, an Algerian-born nurse who grew up here. “It will never be the same,” she said, over a meal of rice and lamb in the racially mixed Paris neighborhood of Barbès-Rochechouart.

Her sister, Cherine, 29, is a computer engineer. Mr. Obama “really represents the dream of America — if you work, you can make it,” she said. “It’s a hope for the entire world.”

But the sisters are less optimistic about the realities of France, where minorities have a limited political role, with only one black deputy elected to the National Assembly from mainland France.

Has the Obama election caused any real self-reflection among the majority here? “It’s politically correct to say, ‘O.K., great! He’s black,’ and clap,” Nadia said. “But deep down, there’s no change. People say one thing and believe another.”

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/world/europe
/12europe.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

UK Minister blasts claim that British troops in Afghanistan are not being given proper equipment as a ‘travesty of reality’

November 2, 2008

A government minister has angrily rejected claims that British troops in Afghanistan have not been given proper equipment.

Daily Mail (London)

Defence Equipment Minister Quentin Davies said SAS commander Major Sebastian Morley’s complaints were a ‘travesty’ which he found hard to take entirely seriously.

Major Morley reportedly resigned his commission in disgust following the deaths of four his soldiers who were killed when their lightly-armoured Snatch Land Rover hit a landmine in Helmand province earlier this year.

But Mr Davies suggested that such incidents could be the result of commanders on the ground sending out their troops in the wrong vehicles with the wrong equipment.

He also challenged the suggestion that Major Morley, who commanded D Squadron, 23 SAS in Afghanistan, had repeatedly raised his concerns with the Whitehall officials and senior commanders.

A British soldier in southeast Afghanistan. The head of Britain's ... 
A British soldier in southeast Afghanistan. The head of Britain’s special forces in Afghanistan has resigned, it emerged Saturday, reportedly in disgust at equipment failures that he believes led to the death of four of his troops(AFP/File/Mandel Ngan)

‘There are a couple of things that are odd about this resignation.

‘He said that he tried to alert the Ministry of Defence to the inadequacies as he saw it of his equipment,’ Mr Davies told BBC News.

‘I have asked several questions in the ministry and no one can trace any such communication from him.

‘Maybe we will come up with it but it does seem rather surprising, the whole of that aspect.’

In his resignation letter, Major Morley was said to have blamed ‘chronic under-investment’ in equipment by the MoD for the deaths Corporal Sarah Bryant – the first female soldier to die in Afghanistan – and three male colleagues, the SAS soldiers, Corporal Sean Reeve, Lance Corporal Richard Larkin and Paul Stout.

The Next World War? It Could Be Financial.

October 12, 2008

By Peter Boone and Simon Johnson
The Washington Post
Sunday, October 12, 2008; Page B01

The global financial outlook grows more dire by the day: The United States has been forced to shore up Wall Street, and European governments are bailing out numerous commercial banks. Even more alarmingly, the government of Iceland is presiding over a massive default by all the country’s major banks. This troubling development points not only to an even more painful recession than anticipated, but also to the urgent need for international coordination to avoid something worse: all-out financial warfare.

The ramifications of Iceland’s misery are probably more serious than people realize. The country’s bank assets are more than 10 times greater than its gross domestic product, so the government clearly cannot afford a bailout. This is going to be a large default, affecting many parties. In the United Kingdom alone, 300,000 account holders face sudden loss of access to their funds, and the process for claiming deposit insurance is not entirely clear.

But there’s a broader concern. With European governments turning down his appeals for assistance, Iceland’s prime minister, Geir Haarde, warned last week that it was now “every country for itself.” This smacks of the financial autarchy that characterized defaulters in the financial crisis in Asia in the late 1990s. Similarly, when Argentina defaulted on its debt in 2001-’02, politicians there faced enormous pressure to change the rule of law to benefit domestic property holders over foreigners, and they changed the bankruptcy law to give local debtors the upper hand. In Indonesia and Russia after the crises of 1998, local enterprises and banks took the opportunity of the confusion to grab property, then found ways to ensure that courts sided with them.

This is a natural outcome of chaotic times. Iceland’s promise to guarantee domestic depositors while reneging on guarantees to foreigners may be just a first step. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s decision last week to sue Iceland over this issue may escalate the crisis. The use of counterterrorist legislation to take over Icelandic bank assets and operations in the United Kingdom also has a potentially dramatic symbolic effect.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/10/10
/AR2008101002441.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

France will push U.S. on EU defense

March 31, 2008

By Jon Ward
The Washington Times
March 31, 2008

French commitments to send 1,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan may be conditional on U.S. support for the European Union’s defense plan that some say will shift power away from U.S. and British interests.
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President Bush leaves this morning for a six-day trip to Eastern Europe and Russia, with an itinerary built around a two-day NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania.
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NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is at the top of the agenda, but delegates also will discuss the acceptance of three new members: Albania, Croatia and Macedonia.
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The 26 NATO members also will vote on whether to allow Georgia and Ukraine to begin the membership process. Russia’s opposition to the move promises to cast a long shadow on the summit.
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Mr. Bush will end his trip with a stop in the Russian coastal resort of Sochi, where he will meet with President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Dmitry Medvedev to discuss missile defense and other issues.

US President George W. Bush heads to Europe Monday to push NATO ...
US President George W. Bush heads to Europe Monday to push NATO allies for more support in Afghanistan and to meet with his outgoing Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, pictured here.(AFP/Pool/File/Mikhail Klimentyev)

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080331/NATION/249650514/1001

NATO’s Superbowl Loss?

March 5, 2008

by James Zumwalt
Human Events
March 5, 2008

The 2007-2008 NFL season witnessed the march of one of the greatest teams in professional football history fall 35 seconds short of perfection. Despite its loss in Superbowl XLII, the New England Patriots demonstrated tremendous success in fielding a team each week with single unity of purpose — to win.

Each team member had equal responsibility to achieve this goal, knowing the rest of the team relied upon him to execute his assignment with maximum intensity and effort.

Imagine, however, if some team members, at the outset of the season, placed limitations on what they were willing to do on the field? What, for example, would have been the result had a defender informed the coach he would only defend against the pass for 20 yards out but not beyond that? Or, worse, if a fully capable player, fearing injury, opted to sit on the bench the entire season, unwilling to share the risks, leaving his fellow teammates to take hits for him.

No coach would ever field such a team, knowing that doing so would spell disaster.

Ironically, on a much more important field — a battlefield in the war on terror — this is exactly what is happening.

In 2003, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai asked NATO to help stabilize his country and provide security against the threat of the Taliban insurgency. Under a UN mandate, NATO took action, becoming the first ground mission in the six decade history of the alliance. French and German forces were sent to the north of Afghanistan; Italian and Spanish forces west; and US, British, Dutch and Canadian troops south — where most of the fighting takes place.

NATO’s mission in Afghanistan was an enormous evolution for the alliance. It represented the first time the Alliance was taking action against a threat outside the European theater.

This was an important step because the member nations, recognizing that the threats to their mutual security posed by terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were global, necessitating more than purely local action.

The future of NATO as a credible force, with single-minded unity of purpose, turned on its performance in Afghanistan.

And it has failed.

Despite the strategic importance of NATO’s success in Afghanistan, it quickly became apparent not all team members came to win. Promised manpower levels were not provided. Some team members placed operational restrictions on their forces. They were not allowed to operate at night.

Others were barred from operating in those areas where the threat was greatest and, thus, help needed the most. Some even put limitations on the distance forces could patrol outside their bases. It was clear not all team members had the same unity of purpose in mind, content to leave other team members to take the hits for them.

Instead of fielding the 18-1 Patriots, NATO fielded the 1-15 Miami Dolphins. President Bush and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have been pressing our NATO allies to do more in this very important fight.

Trying to at least get those nations imposing limitations on the use of their forces, Gates has pointed out, “Brothers in arms achieve victory only when all march in step toward the sound of the guns.” He repeatedly encouraged NATO team members to make their restrictions as benign as possible.

But their continued failure to do so is making the military commander’s mission in Afghanistan a nightmare as leaders need constantly consider what assets can be used at what times and in what locations. Missions are impeded as commanders fail to have unlimited access to all resources in-country. This is no way to fight a war you intend to win.

Leaving a disproportionate share of the risk and responsibility for fighting the Taliban and stabilizing Afghanistan to only a few members of the NATO team is a recipe for disaster. It undermines the team concept of all for one and one for all. It undermines support for the mission by a public who senses less than a full commitment to maximizing the application of military force. Why show up for the game if you’re not going to give your all towards achieving victory? Such a lack of risk balance has prompted Canada, which has suffered the
highest casualty rate of any country, to threaten a withdrawal of its forces next year if other member states fail to contribute more to combat operations.

President Bush has made clear, “Afghanistan is NATO’s most important military operation. By standing together…we will protect our people, defend our freedom and send a clear message to the extremists — the forces of freedom and decency will prevail.”

Afghanistan is NATO’s Superbowl. But while NATO leaders pledge to stay the course there, they are doing little to demonstrate a winning commitment. It was recently revealed that Prince Henry — third in line to the British throne — secretly spent more than two months as a combat soldier in Afghanistan before his presence was revealed by the media.

The bad news is the media placed greater value on reporting this story than on limiting risk to human life; the good news is Henry’s front line deployment demonstrated the Brits’ unity of purpose and commitment to the principle all team members are equal and should share equal risks. If only we could get all our NATO team members to accept this standard.

Short of that, NATO’s quest to win its Superbowl may well go the way of that of the New England Patriots.

James Zumwalt is a retired Marine who served in the Vietnam and Gulf wars. He has written opinion pieces on foreign policy, defense and security issues for dozens of newspapers. He is president of his own security consulting company.