Nimrod: Ainsworth forced to apologise to Families

More on this later but according to the BBC

The highly critical report, by Charles Haddon-Cave QC, said the Afghanistan crash occurred because of a “systemic breach” of the military covenant.

A safety review of the Nimrod MR2 carried out by the MoD, BAE Systems and QinetiQ was branded a “lamentable job”.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth apologised to victims’ families.

Mr Haddon-Cave condemned the change of organisational culture within the MoD between 1998 and 2006, when financial targets came to distract from safety.

He quoted a former senior RAF officer who told his inquiry: “There was no doubt that the culture of the time had switched.

“In the days of the RAF chief engineer in the 1990s, you had to be on top of airworthiness.

By 2004 you had to be on top of your budget if you wanted to get ahead.”

Mr Haddon-Cave’s report also criticised two RAF officers.

Answorth is the man who told us the Nimrod was airworthy. He lied then and should go.

BBC NEWS | UK | Nimrod review reveals ‘failures’.

Brown Bunkered by the TA

As usual when there is bad news Gordon is to be found in his bunker.

As the Telegraph says

This pitiful assurance was given in vain. The poor bloody infantry on the Labour backbenches reckon their commander, Gordon Brown, has flung them into yet another unwinnable battle, with the result that hundreds of them are going to lose their seats at the next general election.

…Nobody said as much, but the sad truth was that Mr Rammell got shot because Mr Brown was hiding in the Downing Street bunker. One of the most outspoken mutineers, Lindsay Hoyle (Lab, Chorley), said he regretted having to fire on Mr Rammell: “I’m sorry for the minister that he’s become an apologist for a crass decision.”

Now I know it’s the MOD that supposedly recommended these cutbacks but surely there were better ways of saving £20 million than this.  The TA have been a vital resource for the regular army for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and treating them like this is  very poor reward for the service they offer.

The debate forced on the government by this decision makes for interesting reading. Even my own MP managed to speak on this issue.

Mark Lancaster  a serving TA officer made these very valid points during the debate.

Drill nights are absolutely vital for the reasons that I have stated, and unless we can get them back I fear for the TA, which cannot simply be mothballed and reopened in six months. Once we lose the culture of attending a drill night on a Tuesday or Wednesday, pretty soon that slot will be filled with something else. People will start going to the cinema with their wives, and it will be almost impossible to get them back in on a Tuesday night. We should not forget that a TA soldier will be paid just one quarter of a day’s pay for a drill night. They may receive two or two-and-a-half days’ pay for a weekend, so they can do three months of training on drill nights for the equivalent. That is why the concession is so minor. I believe that the Minister said today that giving one drill night back would cost £2.5 million, but that is relatively small beer in the MOD budget. That is why this is such a penny-pinching move, why it will ultimately be so damaging to the Territorial Army and why I call on him to think again, give greater concessions and allow more drill nights.

Much of the debate has focused on training, and the Minister has made it clear that he is convinced that all soldiers being deployed to Afghanistan will receive the appropriate pre-deployment training. Let us be clear that regular units—formed units—may undergo some 18 months of pre-deployment training before they are deployed on operations. At best, a TA soldier can currently expect to be mobilised some three months before being deployed to Afghanistan, the process culminating in two weeks’ testing at the reserve training and mobilisation centre at Chilwell. That is not always the case; colleagues of mine have been mobilised at just three days’ notice and have gone straight to the RTMC to be tested.

The proposal is to have a system where the RTMC will no longer be testing soldiers—it will be training them. Already soldiers are being deployed to Afghanistan at risk. The Minister said in the statement that no TA soldier will be deployed at risk, but that was wrong. This is a technical point, but I am concerned that if we are no longer simply testing at RTMC, but training there too, we will be deploying even more soldiers at greater risk. That is fundamentally unacceptable.

The TA contains specialists—I am a bomb disposal officer, although I am not currently in that role. Is the Minister really expecting specialists such as me—a bomb disposal officer—to be able to maintain their skills and potentially be deployed to Afghanistan having had no training for six months? That is ridiculous. I heard what was said by my colleagues at the meeting that the Minister attended this afternoon, so I know that he is beginning to realise the strength of the feeling in all parts of the House—it is being shown in this debate tonight—that this is a fundamentally flawed decision.

I cannot agree with him more a fundamentally flawed decision made by  a fundamentally flawed government.

Armed Forces minister shot in back by own side – Telegraph.

Nimrod review to reveal failures

The long awaited Independent review into the fatal Nimrod crash in Afghanistan will be presented to day and is unlikely to be happy reading for a number of parties. I have blogged on this on a number of occasions

It’s interesting to hear also (via Radio Scotland) that of the RAF’s current 11 Nimrods, none are currently deemed “airworthy”, 2 because of bird strikes but 9 because of longer term maintenance I assume associated with the issues raised by the crash.

Bob Ainsworth will of course repeat his mantra of

“report by QinetiQ on the Nimrod has been received and it does not identify any significant airworthiness issues”.

I suggest that this lie will be even more exposed after today’s report.

BBC NEWS | UK | Nimrod review to reveal failures.

Soldier dies from blast injuries

Always and Forever
Always and Forever

Sadly a soldier from Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, has died six weeks after he was struck by an IED explosion.

The BBC has this:

A British soldier has died in a UK hospital from wounds sustained in an attack in Afghanistan in September.

The unnamed soldier, of the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, died on Sunday in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham.

He was injured when an improvised explosive device went off in Kandahar province six weeks ago.

His commanding officer, Lt Col Stephen Cartwright expressed his “immense sadness” at the soldier’s death.

He said: “Despite a most determined and courageous fight against his injuries sustained in Afghanistan, he died last night in Selly Oak Hospital.

“On behalf of everyone in the Battalion, I offer my deepest sympathy and prayers to his family and loved ones who have been with him these past few difficult days.”

The soldier’s next of kin have been informed, the Ministry of Defence said.

An MoD statement said he had been injured on 15 September 2009.

“Despite the best efforts of medical staff both in theatre and back in the UK, over a period of nearly six weeks, he sadly died as a result of his wounds,” it went on.

The death takes the number of British service personnel to die in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001 to 223.

My thoughts arr with his family and friends on this sad day.

BBC NEWS | World | Soldier dies from blast injuries.

Younger wife for marital bliss

I must at least have some sense since the wife is a more than five years younger than myself  and these days has a good deal more than my share of the brains.

As the BBC says

The secret to a happy marriage for men is choosing a wife who is smarter and at least five years younger than you, say UK experts.

These pairings are more likely to go the distance, particularly if neither has been divorced in the past, according to the Bath University team.

All boxes ticked.

BBC NEWS | Health | ‘Younger wife’ for marital bliss.