def061019 - No. 72

Session 2005-06, 19 October 2006

Operational Note


Operational Note

PUBLICATION OF GOVERNMENT RESPONSE ON UK OPERATIONS IN IRAQ

The Defence Committee today publishes the Government’s Response to the Committee’s report on UK Operations in Iraq as its Twelfth Special Report of Session 2005-06 (UK Operations in Iraq - Government Response to the Committee’s Thirteenth Report of Session 2005-06, HC 1603).

The Committee’s Report on UK Operations in Iraq was published on 10 August 2006, following the Committee’s visit to Iraq in June.

It warned that UK Forces in Iraq faced serious problems with equipment, particularly with Snatch Land Rovers and helicopters, that required urgent attention by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). It stated that deficiencies in equipment and capability gaps had to be addressed as a matter of priority, even if that meant opting for interim solutions.

It also raised concern about the pressures placed on UK Service personnel by the dual deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and about the risks and consequences of operational overstretch. And it suggested that what the Committee had seen on the ground in Iraq gave rise to a much broader question of whether the UK’s Armed Forces were structured, equipped and trained for the role envisaged of them by the MoD.

The Government Response addresses the key issues raised by the Committee’s Report. It provides details on the additional vehicles which are being sent to theatre to supplement Snatch Land Rovers. It provides some response to the Committee’s concerns over the shortage of helicopters. And it gives new information on the conditions required for transition of security responsibility to Provincial Iraqi Control and the role envisaged for UK Forces in MND(SE) after transition.

Commenting on the Government Response, Committee Chairman Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP said “The Secretary of State’s commitment to provide UK Forces with additional, better-armoured patrol vehicles is very welcome, but significant capability gaps and equipment shortages remain - perhaps most acutely in helicopter lift.  And there is growing concern that the burden of operations is impacting on military effectiveness both by pressure on individuals and by reducing the opportunities for training. Our Forces in Iraq are operating with their usual courage and resilience but we owe it to them to ensure that they have both the equipment and the training they need to do the job.”

The Committee will be pursuing some of the concerns expressed in its Report when it takes evidence from the Permanent Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence, on Tuesday 24 October (10.30 am, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House*) on the Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06.

* Room subject to change.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP (Chairman), Mr David S Borrow MP, Mr David Crausby MP, Linda Gilroy MP, Mr David Hamilton MP, Mr Mike Hancock MP, Mr Dai Havard MP, Mr Adam Holloway MP, Mr Brian Jenkins MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP, Robert Key MP, Mr Mark Lancaster MP, Willie Rennie MP, John Smith MP

2. News Release: No. 72

3. The Committee’s Thirteenth Report on UK Operations in Iraq was published on 10 August 2006 as HC 1241.

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