On Saturday, the Daily Star reported that eight Somali pirates captured by Royal Marines in a raid on a hijacked ship were jailed for more than 130 years on Friday. The pirates had been held in Rome since October 2011. | The Daily Star also reported that a spate of crime has hit the Ministry of Defence costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds. Defence Minister Mark Francois revealed that scores of thefts have been reported during just seven months this year. | BBC News online reported that five contracts to maintain naval support ships have been extended by the Ministry of Defence. | On Sunday, the Scottish Sunday Times reported that the MOD is set to scrap plans to base more Army personnel in Scotland and create a 'super garrison' at Kirknewton outside Edinburgh. | The Sun on Sunday published a news-in-brief saying that twenty soldiers are spending two years serving in Afghanistan, four times the normal posting length. The MOD said that the twenty individuals were in advisory roles or had volunteered for the longer tours. | The Daily Star Sunday reported that Radio 1 DJ Greg James is due to broadcast his drivetime show from Camp Bastion and had completed a hostile environment course with the MOD. | The Observer reported that Gary Hyde faces sentencing on Wednesday for illegally supplying a £6m arms shipment of 80,000 weapons to China. He had previously won contracts from the MOD to bring in decommissioned weapons from conflict zones. | The Sunday Telegraph published an article looking at the work of British charity Motivation which provides wheelchairs for those left disabled by conflicts such as Afghanistan as part of the Sunday Telegraph's Christmas Appeal. | The Sunday Express reported that hundreds of servicemen and their families are among the growing number of Britons forced to rely on food banks. | The Sunday Express also reported that Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, the British Admiral in charge of anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, has warned that recent successes may be reversed if EU countries withdraw military support. | The Sunday Telegraph reported that hundreds of foreign and Commonwealth personnel have had the threat of deportation lifted because the Home Office has announced that those with relatively minor convictions can apply for leave to remain, a status below citizenship which allows the holder to live and work in the UK. | The Independent on Sunday reported that Britain is facing fresh legal action from victims of alleged abuse and mistreatment by UK security forces during the fight against colonial rule in Cyprus between 1955 and 1959. | The Sunday Express published an account from an anonymous soldier about how he was savagely beaten and raped by colleagues during a banned initiation ceremony. | The Sunday Telegraph reported that the Duke of Cambridge is considering leaving the RAF to return to the Household Cavalry so that he can take on more royal duties. | Today, the Telegraph reports that the MOD has announced that it will invest a further £25m to replenish the RAF's stockpile of Paveway IV bombs. | The Independent reports that the MOD was last night facing allegations that it had tried to thwart details of the freed SAS Sergeant Danny Nightingale's story by resorting to a D-Notice, an embargo usually reserved for matters of national security, and the Daily Mail reports that Sergeant Nightingale is keen to return to his Special Forces regiment. | The Telegraph reports that NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels this week are expected to signal support for Turkey by giving the go-ahead to deploying Patriot air defence missiles.
Army Christmas leave
It has been reported this weekend that Army personnel will receive an extra five days' leave over Christmas this year and that this is a cost-saving measure.
To suggest the Christmas leave plan is a cost-cutting measure is not true.
In recognition of the exceptionally busy year the Army has had, both on operations and at home - including vital support to the London 2012 Olympics, fuel tanker drivers' strike and the Diamond Jubilee - the usual Christmas leave period has been extended.
Personnel who are essential to supporting operations will remain on task regardless of this leave period and there will be no impact on the mission in Afghanistan.
Royal Navy's future surveillance capability
The Mail on Sunday yesterday published a story containing claims about the Royal Navy's future surveillance capability. The article was referring to Crowsnest, which is the technology that will be used to provide airborne early warning for the fleet after the Sea King helicopters are retired from service.
Crowsnest has not yet reached its main investment decision point, and the contractor for the project has not yet been selected so it would be inappropriate to comment on its in-service date.
Following the withdrawal of Sea King, maritime surveillance will be provided by a number of platforms and capabilities that will work together in a layered approach and we will also work closely with our allies and partners.
Sikh soldiers on royal guarding duties
It was also reported in the Mail on Sunday that Guardsman Jatinderpal Singh Bhullar will shortly join the Scots Guards and that some individuals, both serving and retired, did not want him to wear his turban when in uniform.
The Army takes great pride in its diversity and it is its long term aim to be manned by personnel from all of the UK's diverse communities so that it reflects the society it serves. There are a number of Sikhs already in the Army who wear their turbans when in uniform.
Discussions are underway between Guardsman Bhullar's unit, representatives from the Sikh community and the MOD on this, and, whatever the outcome, the individual will have the full support of the Army and his colleagues. To suggest anything else would be misleading and inaccurate.
Guardsman Bhullar added:
"Conducting public duties while being a practising Sikh and wearing my turban is a great honour for me. I am very proud to be a member of the Household Division and to be the first Sikh Guardsman to mount guard in a turban will be the best thing in my life, especially as a member of the Scots Guards. The regiment is full of history, as is my religion."
His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Howieson, 1st Battalion Scot Guards, based at Forward Operating Base Ouellette in Helmand province, welcomed Guardsman Bhullar joining the battalion. He said:
"When Guardsman Bhullar joins the battalion, he will be a very welcome addition indeed to our ranks, and will be judged only on his merits as an infantryman. The precedent for Sikh soldiers wearing turbans on parade in preference to other headdress was set long ago and it is the British Army norm.
"We welcome the additional diversity; Guardsman Bhullar will join brother Guardsmen of a wide range of ethnicities, religions and denominations. When Guardsman Bhullar marches onto Buckingham Palace Forecourt for the first time, we, his regiment, will be very proud of him as he writes another chapter in our long, distinguished history."
Compensation for injured serviceman
The Sunday Mirror reported this weekend that Corporal Neil Heritage, who lost both legs in a suicide attack in Iraq in 2004, has not received any compensation for his injuries.
The MOD recognises the invaluable contribution of all Service personnel and is committed to making sure that those injured as a result of their service get all the support they need. That is why there are a number of comprehensive schemes in place to provide compensation to injured Service personnel.
Before the introduction of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme in 2005, financial support was provided by the War Pension Scheme which gives a package of compensation that can include lump sum payments or a regular war pension.
All awards are assessed on a case by case basis.