UK: Ministry of Defence to axe 7,000 more civilian jobs

Ministry of Defence to axe 7,000 more civilian jobs (Guardian, Friday 29 July 2011):

The Ministry of Defence is to axe a further 7,000 civilian jobs as part of the department’s desperate efforts to bring its soaring budget under control, the Guardian has learned.

A letter signed by the permanent secretary, Ursula Brennan, will be sent to all staff explaining that cuts are necessary and conceding that the move “will raise questions which cannot be answered immediately”.

The decision has infuriated union leaders and defence officials who say they were not consulted. They accused the department of acting in a cavalier fashion without thinking through the consequences.

The move means the defence civil service, which is responsible for scrutinising contracts to ensure they do not run over budget, will have been cut by a third within nine years.

Last week, the defence secretary, Liam Fox, outlined proposals to cut a further 7,000 military jobs from the army between 2015 and 2020. His statement to the Commons made no reference to civilian posts at the MoD, which are already being cut as part of last year’s strategic defence and security review (SDSR).

The review outlined plans to get rid of 25,000 civil servants between now and 2015, and the fresh announcement, which could come on Friday, will add a further 7,000 to that total by 2020.

Read moreUK: Ministry of Defence to axe 7,000 more civilian jobs

Ministry of Defence Reports Reveal Dozens Disastrous Nuclear Weapons Safety Flaws

Row with US over arming system put Trident warheads at risk, papers reveal

A Trident II missile, usually armed with a nuclear warhead, is launched from an Ohio class submarine

Dozens of potentially disastrous flaws in the safety regime for nuclear weapons have been exposed by secret Ministry of Defence reports seen by the Observer.

Safety procedures at the bomb factory at Aldermaston in Berkshire have been “poor”, nuclear weapons convoys have suffered from “crew fatigue” and safety regulations have been ignored by nuclear submarine commanders, according to the MoD’s internal safety watchdogs.

The reports, released after a three-year freedom of information battle, also show that the “intrinsic safety” of Trident nuclear warheads was put at risk by an argument between Britain and the United States. A new US-made “arming, fusing and firing” system being fitted on to warheads worried the MoD’s nuclear weapon regulator, Andy Moore. There was a “medium risk that safety justifications will lack key information” and a need for “engagement with US on information supply”, he warned.

A major fire in August in a high-explosive building at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston had raised concerns about safety. Fire brigade logs showed that 20 fire engines and 95 crew had fought the blaze for almost nine hours.

Concerns have now been heightened by a series of damning reports from the MoD’s nuclear safety regulators. The ministry has been trying to keep the reports secret since 2007, but last week it was forced to release them on the eve of an appeal to the UK Information Tribunal. The reports provide an unprecedented insight into the intensely secretive world of Britain’s bomb. They reveal a series of problems with safety across the whole nuclear weapons programme.

The most critical is a 2005 report from Moore listing eight “issues and regulatory risks”. There has been “slow progress in implementing the regulation framework for the nuclear weapons programme”, he said. There was a problem with his authority at Aldermaston being “constrained” while a new contract for managing the site was being negotiated.

Moore had even greater problems with the Royal Naval commanders of the four Vanguard-class submarines armed with Trident nuclear missiles. There was confusion over their safety responsibilities, he said. The commitment of the commanders to respond to regulation was uncertain, he warned. “A recent reissue of a safety management plan fails to acknowledge the introduction of regulation or the existence of the regulator.”

There were “inconsistent arrangements for managing transport activities”, Moore’s report said. This meant there was a risk that safety arrangements for moving nuclear materials such as plutonium “does not meet departmental standards”.

Read moreMinistry of Defence Reports Reveal Dozens Disastrous Nuclear Weapons Safety Flaws

Britain Has To Pay Back Nearly £400 Million To Iran’s Defence Ministry

In the 1970s Iran paid Britain for thousands of tanks, but when the Shah fell they were sold on to Iraq. Now Tehran wants its money back.

Trigger for a bitter dispute: the then state-of-the-art Chieftain tank

For Britain’s hard-pressed armaments industry, it was a lucrative deal with a trusted ally. Between 1971 and 1976, the increasingly despotic Shah of Iran had signed on the dotted line for 1,500 state-of-the-art Chieftain battle tanks and 250 repair vehicles costing £650 million. Even better, Persia’s King of Kings paid the British government for his new weaponry up front.

The problem came in 1979 when, with just 185 tanks delivered to Tehran, the Iranian Revolution deposed Shah Pahlavi and installed an Islamic Republic with a somewhat less warm stance towards the United Kingdom. The massive deal, fully sanctioned by the Ministry of Defence, foundered and the Iranians, perhaps understandably, asked for their money back.

London refused and – after flogging a number of its suddenly surplus tanks to Iran’s most bitter enemy in the shape of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – the British government has for 30 years fought a little-noticed but bitter legal wrangle in an obscure international trade court based in the Netherlands to hold onto what remains of the Shah’s money.

Until now.

The Independent can reveal that Britain is to pay back nearly £400m to Iran’s defence ministry after finally admitting defeat in the dispute in a move that will be heralded by Tehran as a major diplomatic triumph while it continues its international brinkmanship with the West over its nuclear ambitions.

Financial restrictions imposed by the European Union on Iranian banks, which freeze any of Tehran’s assets held abroad, mean that Iran will not be able to access the funds. They will instead be held in a trust account overseen by independent trustees. The money will join £976m of Iranian assets already frozen in Britain.

Read moreBritain Has To Pay Back Nearly £400 Million To Iran’s Defence Ministry

British troops to be sent to Helmand, Afghanistan with just 6 weeks training

Hundreds of soldiers from a leading infantry regiment are to be sent to the frontline in Afghanistan with just six weeks training

Hundreds of soldiers from a leading infantry regiment are to be sent to the frontline in Afghanistan with just six weeks’ specialised battlefield training – instead of the usual minimum of six months.

It is believed to be the first time the Army has allowed men to put their lives on the line with so little preparation for the tough fighting conditions against the Taliban.

The training cutback led to claims last night that soldiers’ lives could be put at risk as a result.

Officers in charge of the 400 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment, are being recalled from leave early next week to prepare and plan for their men to deploy to Helmand province at the end of October.

But the main body of men –70 per cent of them young soldiers who have not been deployed to Afghanistan before – will not begin their battle training until the second week of September.

That leaves just six weeks for them to be fighting-fit and gain the specialised skills and knowledge required to take on a war that has resulted in the deaths of 206 British soldiers since 2001.

Read moreBritish troops to be sent to Helmand, Afghanistan with just 6 weeks training

UK can’t find $13bn in military hardware

The US government still holds the record:

– Donald Rumsfeld on CBS News one day before 9/11: Pentagon Cannot Account For 2,3 TRILLION Dollars
What a coincidence!

– Former Assistant Secretary of Housing Catherine Austin Fitts: Financial Coup d’Etat:
Sure enough, that fall, significant amounts of moneys started leaving the US, including illegally. Over $4 trillion went missing from the US government. No one seemed to notice. Misled into thinking we were in a boom economy by a fraudulent debt bubble engineered with force and intention from the highest levels of the financial system, Americans were engaging in an orgy of consumption that was liquidating the real financial equity we needed urgently to reposition ourselves for the times ahead.

Auditors have been unable to find 6.6 billion pounds ($13 billion) worth of British military equipment including vehicles, weapons and radios used by troops, a report said Thursday.

The government has ordered a shakeup at the Ministry of Defence after the auditors found holes in its record keeping, the Financial Times reported.

The findings raised concerns about whether critical resourcing decisions for Afghanistan have been taken by MoD officials without knowing where billions of pounds of equipment, including machine guns, night vision goggles as well as spare parts, is located, the newspaper said.

The National Audit Office has refused to sign off on MoD accounts because of an “inadequate level of evidence” that 6.6 billion pounds of its assets existed, the FT said.

Read moreUK can’t find $13bn in military hardware

Lying about Iraq made me quit, British military press officer claims

You have been lied to all of the time. Those soldiers are nothing more but cannon fodder in the eyes of those that rule your puppet politicians.

Listen to what a former SAS commander has to say about the “Snatch” Land Rover:

Former SAS Comander: Afghan operation is ‘worthless’ (MUST-READ):

And, addressing the use of Snatch Land Rovers, which he deemed to be unsafe and prompted his decision to stand down, he said: “I had to resign.

“I had warned (the MoD) time and time again that there were going to be needless deaths if we were not given the right equipment, and they ignored this advice. There is blood on their hands.

“There was no other vehicle to use. The simple truth is that the protection on these vehicles is inadequate and this led to the unnecessary deaths.”

Having to peddle “government lies” about the safety of soldiers in Iraq led to a Ministry of Defence press officer suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, an employment tribunal will hear.

John Salisbury-Baker will claim that he suffered “intolerable stress” through having to “defend the morally indefensible” when responding to media inquiries about the ability of army vehicles such as the “Snatch” Land Rover to protect soldiers.

Mr Salisbury-Baker, 62, says he found it impossible to support the official line on deaths and injuries after seeing the suffering of soldiers’ families. After 11 years of service at Imphal Barracks near York, he could no longer keep working and is taking legal action against the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The case takes place amid accusations over the government’s attempts to claw back compensation from two injured soldiers, as well as a rising toll of casualties from improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.

Mr Salisbury-Baker’s partner, Christine Brook, said: “John is an honest, sensitive and moral person, and having to peddle government lies that soldiers in vehicles such as the Snatch Land Rovers were safe from roadside bombs made him stressed.

“He was particularly plagued by the thought that some of the bereaved families he was visiting might have previously believed their loved ones were safe, because of what he himself had said to the media.

Read moreLying about Iraq made me quit, British military press officer claims

MoD hides rising injury toll of Taliban bombs

Triple amputee Cpl Tom Neathway from Worcester who lost an arm and both legs while serving with The Parachute Regiment in Afganistan

MORE than 100 British soldiers have suffered amputations and other debilitating injuries in the past year in Afghanistan, according to previously suppressed Ministry of Defence (MoD) figures that reveal the true toll of the Taliban’s roadside bombing campaign.

The number of troops losing limbs or eyes, suffering serious burns or permanent brain damage has increased dramatically since August 2007 when the Taliban intensified their efforts.

During the past 18 months, 37 of the 71 British troops killed are known to have been the victims of roadside bombs or mines, but the number of troops disabled in the attacks has never been fully disclosed.

Figures obtained by The Sunday Times from medical sources show that 37 soldiers suffered “life-changing injuries” between April 2006, when they first deployed to southern Afghanistan, and the end of that year.

There were 55 such injuries during the whole of 2007. Last year the figures more than doubled to 114 and there have been 12 cases this year.

Campaigners claim the MoD is deliberately keeping the human cost of the war out of the public eye. They say the government must fund long-term care for maimed or mentally disabled soldiers instead of relying on charities such as Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.

Read moreMoD hides rising injury toll of Taliban bombs

RAF radar chief reveals his incredible 1971 UFO fleet sighting

London, September 13 : A sexagenarian RAF expert claims that the Ministry of Defence in Britain asked him to keep quiet after he tracked a whole fleet of “spaceships” on military radar in 1971.

Sixty Wing Commander Alan Turner, 64, who was a chief operator of the RAF’s radar system for 29 years, said that all his colleagues were surprised to see 35 super-fast vessels appear on their screens.

Related article: Apollo 14 astronaut claims aliens HAVE made contact – but it has been covered up for 60 years

He said that the craft were equally spaced and shot from 3,000ft to 60,000ft at almost 300mph.

He revealed that every UFO would suddenly vanish from radar after a few seconds, and be replaced by an identical vessel moments later.

Read moreRAF radar chief reveals his incredible 1971 UFO fleet sighting

U.S. Arms Cache Found in Kyrgyzstan

The U.S. embassy in Kyrgyzstan has found itself embroiled in scandal after the country’s interior ministry announced that a hoard of U.S.-made weapons has been found in a house in Bishkek rented by U.S. citizens. The embassy hurriedly stated that the weapons were intended for antiterrorism exercises, but Kyrgyz enforcement agencies have not confirmed that. The news is the talk of Kyrgyzstan. The prosecutor general has begun an investigation.

Read moreU.S. Arms Cache Found in Kyrgyzstan

Defence chiefs admit to nuclear deaths

BRITISH Defence chiefs have admitted servicemen were exposed to dangerous radiation levels during nuclear tests in Australia and the South Pacific in the 1950s.

The dramatic admission, made after years of denials, features in papers filed with the High Court in London by Ministry of Defence lawyers.

The Sunday Mirror newspaper said the court papers reveal that the Ministry of Defence now believes that nuclear tests were responsible for the deaths of some British servicemen.

However, the MoD insists that only 159 men were affected out of the 20,000 who were present.

Read moreDefence chiefs admit to nuclear deaths

English village to be invaded in spybot competition

A village in south-west England will shortly be swarming with robots competing to show off their surveillance skills.

The event is the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) answer to the US DARPA Grand Challenge that set robotic cars against one another to encourage advances in autonomous vehicles.

This village, built for urban warfare training during the Cold War, will host teams of ground-based and aerial robots hunting for snipers, bombs, and other threats (Image: MoD)
Enlarge image

This village, built for urban warfare training during the Cold War, will host teams of ground-based and aerial robots hunting for snipers, bombs, and other threats (Image: MoD)

The MoD Grand Challenge is instead designed to boost development of teams of small robots able to scout out hidden dangers in hostile urban areas.

Over 10 days in August, 11 teams of robots will compete to locate and identify four different threats hidden around a mock East German village used for urban warfare training, at Copehill Down, Wiltshire (see image, top right).

The robots must find snipers, armed vehicles, armed foot soldiers, and improvised explosive devices hidden around the village, and relay a real-time picture of what is happening back to a command post.

Read moreEnglish village to be invaded in spybot competition

British Teachers Told To Rewrite Iraq Invasion History

Britain’s biggest teachers’ union has accused the Ministry of Defence of breaking the law over a lesson plan drawn up to teach pupils about the Iraq war. The National Union of Teachers claims it breaches the 1996 Education Act, which aims to ensure all political issues are treated in a balanced way.

Teachers will threaten to boycott military involvement in schools at the union’s annual conference next weekend, claiming the lesson plan is a “propaganda” exercise and makes no mention of any civilian casualties as a result of the war.

They believe the instructions, designed for use during classroom discussions in general studies or personal, social and health education (PSE) lessons, are arguably an attempt to rewrite the history of the Iraq invasion just as the world prepares to mark its fifth anniversary.

Steve Sinnott, the general secretary of the NUT, said: “This isn’t an attack on the military – nothing of the sort. I know they’ve done valuable work in establishing peace in some countries. It is an attack on practices that we cannot condone in schools. It is a question of whether you present fair and balanced views or put forward prejudice and propaganda to youngsters.”

Read moreBritish Teachers Told To Rewrite Iraq Invasion History