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Defence in the media

Defence in the Media: Sunday 24 September 2017

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Today's Defence related news includes the opening of the Invictus Games in Toronto by Prince Harry; a feature on HMS Ocean, currently in the Caribbean to provide emergency relief following Hurricane Irma; and an interview with Major General Rupert Jones, who was until recently the Deputy Commander of the international coalition to defeat Daesh.

Invictus Games

There has been widespread coverage of the opening of the Invictus Games - the only international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick armed forces personnel and veterans - in Toronto last night. Broadcasters including the BBC, ITV and Sky have all featured the news including interviews with competitors and footage of the glittering opening ceremony, attending by Melania Trump and Meghan Markle. The Sunday Times, Telegraph, Mail, Mirror and People all feature the opening, with the Times featuring a profile of former Royal Marine Mark Ormrod, the first British serviceman in Afghanistan to survive a triple amputation, who is competing in swimming, cycling and rowing for the UK team.

HMS Ocean

The Sunday Times Magazine publishes a five page colour feature on HMS Ocean (largely written before her deployment to the Caribbean) including interviews with the Commanding Officer Captain Robert Pedre and other personnel onboard. The article questions why the decision has been made to retire HMS Ocean next year, with no like for like replacement. The Sun and Mailonline both report that British troops airlifted 10 UK passport holders to safety from Dominica.

Coalition to defeat Daesh

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Major General Rupert Jones, who has recently returned from 12 months as Deputy Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) - the military coalition to defeat Daesh - details the 'very greatest lengths possible' the coalition goes to to minimise civilian casualties, but accepts that 'there is a price you pay' for fighting in densely populated cities. He describes the 'evil traps' that Daesh set and that 'they go way beyond human shields'.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said:

Given the ruthless and inhuman behaviour of our adversary, including the deliberate use of human shields, we must accept that the risk of inadvertent civilian casualties is ever present, particularly in the complex and congested urban environment within which we operate. We do everything we can to minimise the risk to human life from UK strikes through our rigorous targeting processes and the professionalism of the RAF crews.

While we’ve not seen any evidence that we have caused civilian casualties, that isn’t the same as saying we have not or will not do so, especially in close urban fighting against a ruthless terrorist enemy that uses civilians as human shields.

Image of the day

HRH Prince Harry chats with Sgt Steve Alman (left), Craftsman Daniel Phillips (centre left), Jack Cummings (right) and Daniel Spender (centre right) of the UK Swimming Team.
The 90 strong UK team of wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans are in Toronto, Canada to represent the UK in the third Invictus Games.

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