UK CT & COIN Features – 19 June 2008

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A round-up of today’s newspaper articles covering the UK’s involvement in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations at home and abroad.

Afghanistan: Inquest begins for 100th British soldier killed
Allegra Stratton, The Guardian

An inquest began today into the death of the 100th soldier to be killed in Afghanistan. The court heard how 22-year-old private Daniel Gamble, along with two other soldiers, was blown up by a suicide bomber while on a routine patrol in Helmand province.

The Guardian

Private Gamble, of Uckfield, East Sussex, was the last of the three to be certified dead after the attack – bringing the total to 100. The other two soldiers killed were Privates David Murray, from Denton Holme, Carlisle, and Nathan Cuthbertson, of Tunstall, Sunderland, both 19. All three were members of the Parachute Regiment, 2nd Battalion.

In total 106 British soldiers have died in the region since 2001. Yesterday the ministry of defence confirmed the first death of a female soldier in Afghanistan. She was named today as 26-year-old Sgt Sarah Bryant, from Carlisle.

Explainer: Why casualties are up
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian

The war in Afghanistan is entering a crucial stage as Taliban leaders resort to “terrorist” tactics with the help of foreign fighters exposing British troops to greater danger, analysts said yesterday .

“Its been a bad couple of weeks for the British mission in Afghanistan, not because the strategy isn’t working – it demonstrably is – but because the human costs of a successful strategy are now evident,” Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute, said. “The Taliban have been reduced to a band of opportunist terrorists. This makes them politically less relevant to Afghanistan’s future but more lethal to individual British service personnel.”

Paul Cornish, head of Chatham House’s international security programme, described an “ever-widening disjunction” between the war-fighting and “hearts-and-minds” missions of British forces. There was consensus, too, that the more vulnerable British soldiers were to attacks from roadside mines and suicide bombers, the more difficult it was for them to carry out the reconstruction operations Gordon Brown says are now a priority.

Defence officials say that the Taliban commanders’ shift in tactics was not what they expected but suggested they were on the back foot. “Their use of foreign fighters indicates that the Taliban’s normal recruitment base has been undermined,” an official said, referring to Uzbeks, Chechens, and Arabs believed to be joining the insurgency.

New rules of war put women on front line in Iraq and Afghanistan
Jeremy Page, Michael Evans and Francis Elliott, The Times

Britain’s increasing use of women on the front line of war was called into question yesterday after Afghanistan claimed its first female casualty.

The intelligence officer, named last night as Sarah Bryant, 26, was on a secret counter-terrorism mission in Helmand province when she was killed along with three reserve members of the Special Air Service when their armoured Land Rovers were hit by a roadside bomb.

It was the greatest single loss of life for the Territorial Army since the Second World War and the biggest single loss of life for British troops since September 2006, when 14 personnel were killed in an RAF Nimrod crash near Kandahar. It brings to nine the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan in as many days.

Also:

360-degree war puts women in the line of fire
Catherine Philp, The Times

Women soldiers there as ‘support’ – but all Afghanistan is the front line
Jeremy Page, The Times

Role of women in war under the spotlight
Caroline Gammell and Nick Allen, The Telegraph

Minister defends use of light armoured vehicles in Afghanistan
James Sturcke, The Guardian

The government today defended the continued use of lightly armoured Land Rovers by British troops in Afghanistan after the latest deaths in the country.

The four British troops killed by a Taliban roadside bomb on Tuesday were in a Snatch Land Rover, the armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth confirmed.

Corporal Sarah Bryant and three SAS reservists were east of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province in the south of the country when their vehicle was blown up.

The Snatch has been heavily criticised because of its lack of protection against roadside bombs.

The minister told MPs that other vehicles, such as the more heavily armoured Mastiff, “would not have been suitable for the task they were doing in the area in which they were required to work”.

Also:

Fears of more Afghanistan deaths as ‘inadequate’ vehicle blamed for latest fatalities
Thomas Harding, The Telegraph

Afghanistan deaths: Snatch Land Rover putting lives on line
Nick Allen, The Telegraph

Shiv Malik: Journalist claims victory in terrorism sources case
Caitlin Fitzsimmons, The Guardian

Greater Manchester police were justified in demanding that freelance journalist Shiv Malik hand over source material for a book on terrorism, but the terms of the production order were too wide, a judicial review of the case ruled today.

Following the judgment, Malik declared the ruling “a victory for common sense”, adding that he was fighting for “civil rights, the rights of journalists and open reporting”.

Malik’s case will return to the high court in London on June 26 to hear arguments on what the terms of the order should be.

The case was a judicial review by a panel of three judges over whether a production order granted by a lower court to Greater Manchester police should stand.

Greater Manchester police wanted Malik to hand over all material for his forthcoming book, titled Leaving al-Qaeda: Inside the Mind of a British Terrorist, which features interviews with terror suspect Hassan Butt.

In handing down the written judgment, Lord Justice John Dyson, one of the three judges on the judicial review panel, said the courts needed to protect journalism as well as fight terrorism.

Also:

Shiv Malik interview: ‘Journalists have a right to protect their sources’
The Guardian (Audio)

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