Today's defence news covers a ground-breaking soldier, the war on Daesh, payments to veterans with mesothelioma and the ongoing inquest into the death of Private Cheryl James.
Most newspapers cover the third day of an inquest into the death of 18-year-old Private Cheryl James in 1995 with most reports carrying testimony on the culture at Deepcut barracks at that time. Our statement on the inquest is below:
Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Private Cheryl James. The inquest is now a matter for the Coroner; we have cooperated fully with his direction throughout this process and will continue to do so.
The Sun reports the story of Corporal Christian Mattey, who the paper claims is the first ‘woman-to-man’ transgender soldier. The article says that Christian has won the admiration of fellow squaddies and his chiefs. His senior officer, Warrant Officer Richard Thomas, is quoted in the article: “She was a top operator in the Army and he is a top operator. I see no difference. I wish I had more like him.”
Corp Mattey told the newspaper: “When I made that decision the Army were brilliant. They gave permission and were so supportive all the way through the process.” The paper also writes that Christian has been awarded the Going The Extra Mile prize for his 12 years in the Reserves for The Royal Monmouthsire Royal Engineers (Militia).
The Sun reports that British bomb disposal experts have flown to Iraq to join the war on Daesh, as the MOD revealed there were 97 airstrikes last month – a high in the 17-month campaign. Michael Fallon will meet other Coalition defence secretaries today to urge “accelerating” the operation in Iraq and Syria. Speaking ahead of today’s meeting, the Defence Secretary said:
We plan to hit Daesh harder: reducing territory, targeting their infrastructure and freeing more people from their brutal regime. In order to achieve that regional allies must make further commitments as we look to intensify military activity across Iraq and Syria.
The Independent writes that David Cameron is being urged to intervene to ensure the MOD gives 60 veterans with terminal cancer from asbestos exposure the same compensation rights as civilians and other ex-soldiers. The Prime Minister is facing calls from military figures, medical experts and politicians to close a loophole that means dozens of dying former soldiers will miss out on a lump-sum payouts, the newspaper writes. A MOD statement on this issue, following recent comments by Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans Mark Lancaster, is below.
This is a complex issue, but as the Minister has indicated previously, this Government is determined to ensure that all mesothelioma claimants receive fair treatment. We hope to provide a positive update over the coming weeks.
The Times reports that Nato warships could be deployed to the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea to help stem the flow of refugees coming into Europe. It is reported that the alliance is considering a request from Turkey and Germany for ships from Nato countries to intercept and deter smugglers bringing migrants from Turkey to Greece.