Ross Kemp returns to Helmand

Members of Whiskey Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines, and the Afghan Uniform Police at the handover of Checkpoint Meelet, Nad 'Ali (South)

‘Ross Kemp: Back On The Frontline’ starts on Sky1 at 2100hrs GMT tonight 14th November 2011.

Expressing firm opinions on why the Taliban should be given air time he adds:

“There is no way that the solution to Afghanistan will come at the end of a rifle. It will come through negotiations and undoubtedly the Taliban have to be involved, so the sooner we start listening to what they believe, what they want, the sooner we will hopefully come to a settlement. They weren’t clichés. They have beards and they wear black turbans but they are all individuals.”

Kemp also believes that no-one should be thinking about trying to turn Afghanistan into a completely democracy-embracing country:

“They are Afghans and they live the Afghan way. It will never be the same as ours, and why should it be? But it would be a heck of a waste of time and life if we leave that country and things haven’t improved. But I’m hoping and praying that they will.”

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Military Operations | Ross Kemp returns to Helmand.

Operational Honours and Awards List: 30 September 2011

A total of 140 members of the Armed Forces have received honours and awards in the Operational Honours List dated today, 30 September 2011.

The full list, which recognises service on operations in Afghanistan and national operations for the period 1 October 2010 to 31 March 2011, is below.

Click on the image below to view the full list of Honours and Awards.

Click on the image to view the complete list of Honours and Awards.
Click on the image to view the full list of Honours and Awards.

 

EU Referendum: Cut-price failure

As Richard North so rightly puts

What seems to have escaped the Defence Committee and the media pundits is that for much of the past decade, the military have been unable to deliver. The escapade in Southern Iraq was an egregious military as well as a political failure, and the operation in Afghanistan is following a similar pattern.
What we need to confront it that the British Armed forces have the highest per capita spending of all the forces in the world – three times the spend per person than the US military. And for that, we get serial failures. It would be too much to expect that either the Defence Committee or the present administration could improve our performance with the existing budget – neither have the capability nor understanding so to do.

The issue is that we are not getting what we pay for. If the budget was used correctly we might just be able to do what is required.

EU Referendum: Cut-price failure.

Soldier shot in Afghanistan as MoD names two

Always and Forever

Sadly I missed the announcements on Friday of the deaths of two further British Soldiers in Afghanistan. And then today we have the further sad news of the death of a third soldier. The BBC has this:

A British soldier from 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment has been killed in Afghanistan, the MoD has said.

The announcement came shortly after two other soldiers, who died in separate incidents on Thursday, were named as Corporal Lloyd Newell and Craftsman Andrew Found.

The latest casualty was killed on Saturday when he was shot on patrol. His next-of-kin have been informed.

The total number of service personnel killed in Afghanistan stands at 374.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lt Col Tim Purbrick, said the soldier who was killed on Saturday was part of the protective cordon guarding a meeting between the Afghan National Army and people who had recently reoccupied the Haji Tor Aga Kalay area in the Nahr-e Saraj District.

He said insurgents with “engaged them with small arms fire during which he was fatally wounded. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

On the deaths of the soldiers on Friday the BBC has this

Craftsman Andrew Found (l) and Corporal Lloyd Newell were killed on the same day in Afghanistan

Corporal Lloyd Newell, a member of the Parachute Regiment, was killed by small arms fire in Helmand Province on Thursday.

Craftsman Andrew Found, 27, from Whitby, Yorkshire, was a member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, he died in an explosion while trying to rescue a vehicle.

‘Man of integrity’

Cpl Newell was married with a nine-week-old daughter. The MoD said it would not be releasing details of his age or where he was from “because of the nature of his work”.

An MoD spokesman said the paratrooper “was a man of integrity and principle”.

“He was a natural and talented soldier who loved his work and the military lifestyle.

“He personified the great British Paratrooper – selfless, humble, cheerful and utterly reliable. He did his duty, relishing discomfort as a personal test, and always acting in the greater interests of the team.”

‘Laughter and love’

Craftsman Andrew Found, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, serving with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, was killed by a bomb in the Gereshk Valley area of Helmand.

A father-of-two, his wife Samantha said: “You’re my husband, my best friend and are my world. I cannot explain my pain and the hole you have left in all our lives.

“You are the best husband anyone could have wished for; a great dad, friend and you have touched the hearts of many in your life.

“You loved your job, your family and friends and always loved a good joke. You always made me smile. I will love you always and forever. You were my rock and my hero and always will be. I love you so much.”

The couple had a son, Jaxson. Craftsman Found also had another son, Michael, from a previous relationship.

His parents Jennifer and Alan Found, and his brother Simon, said: “Even though we are all in pain now, we will remember the fun, the laughter and all the love he brought to all the people he knew and loved.”

Another sad week for our Armed Forces in Afghanistan. My thoughts are with all the families and friends of the three soldiers.

BBC News – Soldier shot in Afghanistan as MoD names two.

Help for Heroes Raises £100 Million for our Wounded Servicemen and Women


Way back in September 2007  I blogged about the appeal for a Vital Therapy centre for Soldiers even before the actual launch of the appeal. At the time I said

The head of the army Sir Richard Dannatt is having to appeal for funds for Headley Court rehabilitation centre near Ashtead, Surrey.

What do they need this money for.
Just simple facilities that should be available to our returning wounded soldiers.

The Help for Heroes appeal is to build a full-size rehabilitation pool and re-equip the antiquated gym at the centre, where currently 180 servicemen and women are being treated as in-patients.

At present, severely disabled service personnel, many of them amputees, endure a two-and a half-hour round trip to a public pool for vital cardiovascular exercise.

Once there, they must swim alongside the paying public in what is often a very private form of therapy.

The public should not have to be asked to fund this sort of centre, it should be adequately funded by the government as part of their Covenant to our Armed Services. It is their duty to support the armed forces particularly when they have been injured during the course of their service.

Only last week I blogged on another appeal by Sir Richard for the people of this country and in particular the government to get behind our soldiers.

It is time this government accepted it responsibility and Honoured the Covenant.

Now nearly 4 years on Help for Heroes has reached the landmark of having raised £100 million for our Armed Forces. This a an amazing achievement in such a short time. Please help by donating via the website or the link in the sidebar.

Help for Heroes Raises £100 Million for our Wounded Servicemen and Women.

Two further deaths in Helmand Province

Always and Forever

Sadly over the weekend there were two further deaths in Afghanistan.

Royal Marine killed in Helmand province

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that a Royal Marine from 42 Commando Royal Marines was killed in Afghanistan today, Sunday 5 June 2011.

The Royal Marine was fatally wounded by small arms fire while on a joint patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, said:

“It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death of a Royal Marine from 42 Commando Royal Marines.

“He was on a joint patrol to meet local people and to disrupt insurgent activity in the Adensee area of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand province when he was fatally wounded by small arms fire this morning.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Next of kin have been informed and have requested a period of grace before further details are released.

Soldier from 1 RIFLES killed in Helmand

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that a soldier from 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) was killed in Afghanistan yesterday, Sunday 5 June 2011.

The soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device while on a patrol in the Haji Kareen area of the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, said:

“It is with great sadness that I have to inform you of the death of a soldier from 1st Battalion The Rifles in the Haji Kareen area of the Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand province.

“The soldier was part of a foot patrol, supporting an Afghan National Security Forces operation to clear one of the last remaining insurgent safe havens in central Helmand, when he was fatally wounded by an improvised explosive device.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Next of kin have been informed and have requested a period of grace before further details are released.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the two soldiers at this sad time.

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Military Operations | Royal Marine killed in Helmand province.

UK soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan

Always and Forever

The BBC reports on the death of a Scottish soldier in Afghanistan.

A UK soldier has been killed while on a security patrol in Afghanistan.

The soldier was from The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and died on Friday.

The soldier came under fire from rifles and rocket propelled grenades in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province. Next of kin have been informed.

This latest death brings the number of British military deaths in operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 369.

Army spokesman Lt Col Tim Purbrick said the soldier was on patrol with the Afghan National Police when his unit was attacked.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” he said.

My thoughts are with his family and friends on this sad day.

BBC News – UK soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan.

Two Royal Marines killed in Helmand

 

Always and Forever

Sadly it seems that Afghanistan has taken a further toll on our Forces. The MOD reports:

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that two Royal Marines from 42 Commando Royal Marines were killed in Afghanistan yesterday, Friday 27 May 2011.

The Marines were killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while on a joint Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation to clear parts of the Loy Mandeh area of the Nad-e Ali (North) District of Helmand Province.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Rolf Kurth, said:

“It is my sad duty to inform you of the death of two Royal Marines from 42 Commando Royal Marines in the Loy Mandeh area of the Nad-e Ali District of Helmand Province.

“The two Royal Marines were on patrol, disrupting insurgent activity when they were killed by an explosion caused by an IED. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends in their time of grief.”

Next of kin have been informed and have asked for a period of grace before further details are released.

My thoughts are with their family and friends at this sad time.

I had hoped it would be a while before I had to blog about the deaths of our Armed Forces in Afghanistan but sadly it seems not. I can only hope it will be a while before I have to again.

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Military Operations | Two Royal Marines killed in Helmand.

A year on…

Always and Forever

I last posted on this Blog a year ago today, no particular reason for stopping apart from a lack of time and a degree of staleness after the election.

Sadly during this time some 79 Armed Forces personnel have lost their lives in Afghanistan. A terrible toll that we must all hope comes to an end soon.

Also we are now involved in the war in Libya. Let us hope the situation there comes to a peaceful end as soon as possible

BBC News – Data breakdown: UK fatalities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Liam Fox: New Secretary of State sends message to Defence staff

I heard a rumour last night that the Defence Secretary was to be Paddy Ashdown and was surprised but quite pleased as I don’t really rate Liam Fox, the new Defence Secretary.

Sadly the rumour didn’t turn out to be true. I believe it would have been a good move and with his experience in conflicts he could have brought a realism to Defence that has been missing for some time.

It seems that I am not the only one of that opinion as Subrosa has been explaining here. As she says

Out of all the appointments mentioned today this one concerns me most. Liam Fox, as shadow defence secretary, never performed better than average. His media interviews were composed of soundbites and no substance and often he seemed far more concerned that the public knew he had been to visit our troops in various parts of the world rather than address their concerns.

Sadly she is correct he has managed to make Bob Ainsworth almost appear talented. Let us hope that his performance in the real role, where we need someone well above average, is better than his role as shadow.

Hopefully he will be backed up a good team who can help him through what will be a tough time in the next few years. This is a department that cannot fail. There are some very good names out there on all sides of the fence who can lend their experience at all facets of defence.

Anyway here is what he had to say today.

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Defence Policy and Business | New Secretary of State sends message to Defence staff.