UK CT & COIN Features – 30 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.

British soldier is killed by a landmine while on patrol in Afghanistan
Steve Bird, The Times

A British soldier was killed in Afghanistan after stepping on a landmine, the Ministry of Defence said.

The soldier, from B Company 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was on patrol in the Lashkar Gar area of Helmand province when he stepped on an antipersonnel mine. He was killed instantly minutes after responding to reports of a rocket attack at Bost airport at 11am on Saturday. His name has not been released but his next of kin have been informed.

The Ministry of Defence said: “He was part of a vehicle checkpoint patrol when they received a report of an RPG attack on a civilian aircraft at Bost airfield. When investigating this they dismounted their vehicles and that is when what is believed to have been a legacy antipersonnel mine detonated, killing the soldier instantly.”

Also:

British soldier killed in Afghanistan ‘was a future star’
John Bingham, The Telegraph

Army overhaul to fight budget crisis
Stephen Fidler, The Financial Times

The British army is considering reductions in the numbers of battle tanks and heavy artillery pieces and hoping for a boost in soldier numbers, following a review by its general staff.

The review, which looks forward 10 years, is meant to shape army priorities as the Ministry of Defence examines its equipment procurement programme in the face of one of the most serious defence funding crises in decades.

But it will also lead to big changes in organisation that could see an end to specialised units such as tank brigades and the development of identical brigades across the army.

The changes were signalled this month in a speech by General Sir Richard Dannatt, the army chief, and elaborated in a Financial Times interview by Major General Simon Mayall, assistant chief of the general staff.

The proposals are part of the army’s efforts to adjust to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan – the likes of which are expected to form a greater part of its role than in the past.

But this means that, because of budget pressures, the army will have to take risks with its other main task of being able to launch combat operations involving 30,000 troops or more.

British troops making progress in Afghanistan, says Douglas Alexander
Aislinn Simpson, The Telegraph

British troops are making progress in Afghanistan both militarily and in rebuilding the country, according to the International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander.

Speaking from Lashkar Gar during a visit to inspect development projects, Mr Alexander said he was “extraordinarily proud” of British forces and what they have achieved. His comments come shortly after the 110th service person was killed in the wartorn country since the US-led invasion in 2001, the 13th in just 10 days.

Mr Alexander insisted that the heavy losses experienced by British forces were not in vain.

He said: “I’ve heard already of the more than six million children who are now in school.

“That’s two million of them young girls, compared with a figure of 900,000 boys in 2001 when the Taliban didn’t feel the need for girls to go to school.

“We’ve seen real improvements also in terms of healthcare and in terms of the economy. So I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen at the same time as feeling extraordinary pride and admiration in the work of our service personnel.”

Apaches “strike a blow” at Taliban leadership
MoD

British troops using Apache attack helicopters have killed a key Taliban leader and up to ten members of his cell during an operation in Helmand Province.

The intelligence-led, precision missile strike was carried out by members of 664 Army Air Corps on Thursday 26 June 2008. The attack took place 10 kilometres north west of Kajaki.

The Apache engaged the vehicle in which the Taliban leader Sadiqullah was travelling with two Hellfire missiles. It is thought that Sadiqullah was the mastermind behind a spate of recent roadside bomb and suicide attacks against British, NATO and Afghan forces operating in the area.

Also:

Taliban leader killed in missile strike, says MoD
Matthew Taylor and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian

Jean Charles de Menezes inquest: 44 police officers granted anonymity
The Telegraph

All 44 police officers who applied for anonymity at the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes will have their identity kept secret using a screen and code-names, it was ruled on Monday.

The applications were approved by Coroner Sir Michael Wright QC at a pre-inquest hearing into the Brazilian’s death at Southwark Coroners Court.

The officers will be given pseudonyms or code-names and those called to give evidence in person will do so from behind a screen.

….

Giving his reasons for the decision yesterday (MON), the coroner said many of the officers continued to take part in covert anti-terrorism and serious organised crime operations.

Missing terror suspect rearrested
John Bingham, The Telegraph

A terror suspect who went on the run has been recaptured by police after two days. Scotland Yard said that the 24-year-old who can not be named for legal reasons, was arrested in east London.

The man, understood to have been due to stand trial accused of involvement in a major plot involving mass casualties, was reported missing from his home in the capital on Friday. He had been held under strict bail conditions.

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