Today’s defence news includes RAF attacks on targets in Fallujah, SAS soldiers potentially facing court martial, and a response to the critique on defence procurement.
The Sun reports that “RAF aces” have attacked 51 targets in Fallujah as Iraqi forces battle to retake the city from Daesh. Typhoons, Tornados and Reaper drones are said to be “raining down strikes backed by spy planes”, destroying targets including bunkers, weapons factories, sniper teams and artillery.
A blog post by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon on defeating Daesh can be seen here.
The latest air strike update can be seen here.
Short articles in the Sun and Daily Mail report that two SAS soldiers could face court martial after their cases were referred to the Service Prosecuting Authority for consideration. The pair are said to be facing potential manslaughter charges for their role in the three deaths that occurred during a training exercise in 2013.
An Army spokesperson said:
It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing service investigation.
In a comment piece in the The Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Warner claims the MOD is failing to procure the right kit for our Armed Forces. He argues that this week’s revelation that the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers cannot operate sufficiently in warmer waters shows the need for a “fundamental rethink” of how taxpayers’ money is spent.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said:
We recognise the need to learn from previous major defence procurement projects which have exceeded budget and schedule; we are determined to get this right, which is why we committed to delivering ongoing procurement improvements in the Strategic Defence Security Review 2015.
Since Sir Bernard Gray’s 2009 Review of Defence Acquisition and Lord Levene’s 2011 report on Defence Reform identified challenges and recommendations in procurement, the MOD has undertaken an extensive programme of reform.
Several of the programmes referenced in this article began decades ago. Since then we have demonstrated a sustained improvement in delivery performance for equipment programmes, as recently noted by The National Audit Office, with costs of our largest defence projects down £247 million in 2014/15 and 99% of performance requirements due to be met according to the latest forecasts.
The Sun, Times and Daily Express report claims that the RAF’s new artificially intelligent drone will have the capacity to attack targets of its own accord. While British rules of engagement do not permit drones to attack without human sanction, it is claimed the capability will be included in case those rules change.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said:
The UK does not possess fully autonomous weapon systems and has no intention of developing or acquiring them. The operation of our weapons will always be under human control as an absolute guarantee of human oversight, authority and accountability for their use.
The majority of newspapers report that prosecutors will not pursue charges against British spies over their alleged involvement in the rendition and torture of Libyan dissidents in 2004 - ending a complex four-year criminal investigation into MI6 and its counter-terrorism work at the height of the 'war on terror'. After considering a 28,000-page case submitted to it by the Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service says there is “insufficient evidence” to warrant prosecutions for officials at the Secret Intelligence Service, as MI6 is formally known, over the controversial kidnap and detention of two Libyan families 12 years ago.
A Government spokesperson said:
The Government notes the decision of the CPS not to bring charges in relation to the cases of Mr Al-Sa’adi and Mr Belhaj and has co-operated fully with this police investigation.
The security and intelligence agencies are subject to robust oversight, including accountability to Minsters, and the independent Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.
It would not be appropriate to comment further on this case. Separate judicial proceedings are still ongoing.