On Saturday, various media reported that tributes have been paid to Corporal Andrew Roberts and Private Ratu Silibaravi, from 23 Pioneer Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, who were killed in Afghanistan on Friday. | The Guardian reported that the UK publication this month of a book of translated Taliban poetry has been denounced as enemy propaganda by Colonel Richard Kemp (Retd), former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. | Various media reported that the Defence Secretary and Foreign Secretary have condemned the advert showing an Argentine athlete training on a British war memorial in the Falklands. | Various media reported that the Royal Navy's largest ship, HMS Ocean, has sailed up the River Thames for a major security exercise in preparation for the Olympic Games codenamed Olympic Guardian. | Various media reported that, in a tragic accident at the Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, Ranger Michael Maguire was shot and subsequently died during a live firing training exercise. | The Telegraph reported that the Defence Secretary has said that he is prepared to give the order to shoot down hijacked aircraft if they pose a risk to the Olympics, even if a jet is filled with passengers. | The Daily Star reported that cyber criminals have managed to hack into some of the Ministry of Defence's computer systems. The MOD clarified that no 'Top Secret' material is stored on terminals connected to the internet. | On Sunday, the Express reported that families of victims of an alleged act of brutality by a group of Scots Guards soldiers in Malaya more than 60 years ago have launched a judicial review in a bid to seek a full independent investigation. | The Observer reported that the MOD is facing a legal battle and parliamentary questions after letting a US company excavate a British 18th century warship laden with potentially lucrative cargo. | The Mail on Sunday reported that Prince William is considering his future with the RAF after being told he has until the end of the year to decide whether he wants to continue flying. | The Sunday Times reported that the RAF is planning to use a base in Russia to withdraw billions of pounds worth of military hardware from Afghanistan when UK forces pull out. | The Daily Mail reported that a memorial to First World War veteran Harry Patch, who died in 2009, has been unveiled in Wells, Somerset. | The Daily Mail also reported that troops are being trained to deal with a poison attack from drone aircraft at a top secret military establishment in Wiltshire. | Today, various media report that Prince Harry has received a humanitarian award in the US for his and Prince William's charitable work in support of injured Service personnel. | The Daily Mirror reports that a soldier, Private Craig Paterson, who continued to fight the Taliban after a sniper shot him in the head, is preparing to cycle around Britain for charity. | The Times reports that more than a hundred Afghan police are charged each week with criminal offences. | The Daily Mirror reports that only four soldiers mentally scarred by the horrors of war in Afghanistan were compensated last year. | The Daily Mirror also reports that Red Arrow jets are set to fly over Red Square for the first time as relations between the UK and Russia start to thaw.
Corporal Andrew Steven Roberts and Private Ratu Manasa Silibaravi killed in Afghanistan
It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Corporal Andrew Steven Roberts and Private Ratu Manasa Silibaravi, both from 23 Pioneer Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, were killed in Afghanistan on Friday 4 May 2012.
The Mail on Sunday (6 May) carried an article in which it was wrongly claimed that the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless was left helpless and stranded off West Africa. The article does carry the following statement from a Royal Navy spokesman but fails to acknowledge that the ship was not stranded or helpless: "HMS Dauntless was not left drifting and her propellers did not stop. An electrical overload did occur and, to ensure that essential systems remained powered, low priority systems were briefly isolated until the problem was fixed. Every new class of ship has teething problems. Ships have their own characteristics and it takes time for the ship's company to learn them in every environment."
The reference to an electrical overload was gleaned from one short sentence in a full-page piece written by another journalist embedded on HMS Dauntless as the ship successfully exercised with the navies of West African nations. The journalist who was on board HMS Dauntless focused on the benefits for the UK of engaging with other countries through training and exercises, rather than a momentary electrical overload which formed the focus of the Mail on Sunday article.
The Telegraph carries a comment piece by Con Couglin entitled 'A frontier far away holds the key to our Olympics security' which alleges that there will be a 'military lockdown in London' during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It also makes further claims, including the Games being turned into 'a major war zone' and the presence of 'over the top security measures'.
This is not the case, and, while the Government has stated that safety at this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games is of paramount importance, it wishes to cause as little disruption to people going about their everyday business as possible. As we have said on numerous occasions, after the training exercise that is taking place this week, military personnel and assets will blend into the background during the Games themselves as the sport takes centre stage.
As General Sir Nick Parker, Standing Joint Commander (UK), has previously said: "I know that members of the Armed Forces are pleased to be able to make an appropriate contribution to the once-in-a-lifetime event that is London 2012. It's entirely proper that, as national institutions which serve our country, we are seen to be helping to make the London Olympics a resounding success."
Future structure of the Army
The Telegraph also has an interview with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on the future structure of the Army.
A review into this is ongoing and no conclusions have yet been reached. As General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, has stated previously, the Army is confident it can meet its target of 82,000 by 2020. We are gradually moving towards the new Army structure so that operations are not adversely affected in any way.
The Telegraph also claims that regiments with significant numbers of soldiers from Commonwealth countries will be most vulnerable. To put these figures into context, just under 10 per cent of the infantry across the Army is made up of foreign and Commonwealth soldiers. In 2011/12 inflow into the entire Army was 10,205, of which 9,475 recruits were from the UK mainland.