Defence in the Media: 20 May 2015

A range of defence stories appear in the news this morning, including reports a UK-based former senior officer in the Pakistan army is accused of selling the secret location of Osama bin Laden to the CIA.

 Migrant Ships

It is reported that an EU plan to impose quotas on member states for the acceptance of migrants appeared close to collapse yesterday as France and Spain withdrew support. The Guardian argues that military operations will not stop migration to Europe and calls instead for European navies to priorities search and rescue missions.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

We have made some progress today to a more comprehensive plan that will tackle the problem at source, disrupt the trafficker routes and get after the criminals who are involved in this activity.

We have the Royal Navy already off the Libyan coast, helping in search and rescue. We have said we are prepared to help with the details of this new mission. We are seconding some planning staff to think through the details of how it will work.

Any destruction of boats will require some legal authority and that has to come from the United Nations but we are not at that stage yet. We are only at the very beginning of planning this particular mission and getting towards a longer-term solution which involves disrupting the trafficking roots and breaking the criminal networks and getting out of the gangs who are making a lot of money out of this misery.

Clearly this is a mission which is going to take some time now because there are people on the move who have paid money in West Africa and in East Africa towards these gangs in the hope of getting across Africa and across the Mediterranean. We need to cut off those roots at source and deprive the criminal gangs of their revenue.


The Daily Telegraph contains an article focusing on the ongoing fight against ISIL in Iraq, writing that the full extent of the Iraqi army's capitulation to ISIL has been disclosed by Washington. A pentagon spokesman is reported to have said that the Iraqi security force abandoned “a half dozen tanks”, along with a similar number of artillery pieces, a large number of armoured personnel carriers and about 100 other vehicles such as Humvees. The Times meanwhile reports that the Iraqi government will arm Sunni tribes as ISIL militants advance towards Baghdad.

A UK Government spokesperson has said:

We are following the situation in Ramadi closely. Coalition forces continue to provide targeted air support in ISIL-held and contested areas throughout Iraq, with the Coalition launching numerous air strikes in Ramadi over the weekend. We have long said that there would be ebb and flow in the fight against ISIL. As the Prime Minister has said, this will be a long process, but we will, working with the Government of Iraq and coalition partners, eventually be successful. The fighting at Ramadi again shows the complex and difficult security situation in Iraq. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of these brutal attacks. The priority must now be security and welfare of civilians who have fled the fighting. We are working closely with the Iraqi government to establish what support may be needed.

Royal Navy Submariner

There is further coverage, including in The Times and the Daily Telegraph, of the submariner who published criticisms of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, and now faces punishment for violating military law. The Guardian reports that he will not be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act.

Yesterday, a Royal Navy spokesperson said:

We can confirm that Able Seaman McNeilly was apprehended last night and is in the care of the Royal Navy helping with our investigations, he is being afforded the duty of care that we give all our personnel. The Royal Navy continues to disagree with McNeilly’s subjective and unsubstantiated personal views but we take the operation of our submarines and the safety of our personnel extremely seriously and so continue to fully investigate the circumstances of this issue.

Al-Sweady Inquiry

The founder of Public Interest Lawyers Phil Shiner gave his first newspaper interview to The Independent since the MOD presented a dossier of allegations against him to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), following the collapse of the Al-Sweady abuse claims. A document provided to the SRA, by Mr Shiner’s lawyers, describes the MOD’s dossier as misleading.

An MOD spokesperson has said: 

The MOD is assisting the Solicitors Regulation Authority after it launched an investigation into issues that came to light as a result of the Al-Sweady Inquiry. The MOD was meticulous in only putting forward arguments it could substantiate.

Image of the day

The Armed Forces Memorial within the National Memorial Arboretum at Arelwas, Staffordshire. The National Memorial Arboretum, supported by The Royal British Legion, honours the fallen, recognises sacrifice and fosters pride in the country.
The Armed Forces Memorial within the National Memorial Arboretum at Arelwas, Staffordshire. The National Memorial Arboretum, supported by The Royal British Legion, honours the fallen, recognises sacrifice and fosters pride in the country.

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