News story: Armed Forces join The Queen as she leads the UK in Remembrance


War Hero
Members of the Armed Forces have joined the national Service of Remembrance in Whitehall today. The Queen led the nation in a nationally observed two-minute silence, and then was the first to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph to commemorate those Servicemen and women killed in all conflicts since the First World War.

The Prime Minister also attended the service along with Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, and other members of the Cabinet, former Prime Ministers, The Chiefs of Staff and over 700 regular and reserve personnel.

Accompanying the Queen were members of the Royal Family including The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge, Prince Henry of Wales, The Duke of York, The Earl of Wessex, The Princess Royal and The Duke of Kent.

Soldiers from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a round from nearby Horse Guards Parade which echoed around Whitehall to signal the start and the end of the two minutes’ silence.

As the artillery noise faded, buglers of the Royal Marines sounded the poignant Last Post, which traditionally signalled the end of a soldier’s day.

Following the ceremony thousands of veterans from the Second World War and more recent conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, marched past the Cenotaph.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

As the clock strikes 11 today, it’s as important as ever to reflect on the sacrifices of those who gave their lives, and those who continue to defend us today.

This year we have commemorated the 100th anniversary of Battle of Jutland as well as the vast sacrifice on the fields of the Somme – where more than 57,000 British soldiers lost their lives on the first day of fighting alone.

We must also remember our heroes from more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tomorrow, we should reflect on the unparalleled contribution made by the men and women of our armed forces.

Thousands of them deployed now, on 28 operations in more than 25 countries. Their support continues to make us safer and more secure at home.

The Armed Forces also marked Remembrance Sunday wherever they were in the world, from the Mediterranean where the Navy is assisting in migrant rescue operations to Afghanistan, where the UK is helping to support Afghanistan’s future by helping to train Afghan soldiers.

This year has been particularly poignant for Remembrance with large numbers of Service personnel taking part in major commemorations, such as the centenaries of the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of the Somme.

Continue reading...


War Hero
My Lord Mayor, My Late Lord Mayor, Your Grace, My Lord Chancellor, Your Excellencies, My Lords, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Chief Commoner, ladies and gentlemen.

We meet tonight in a world transformed. A year ago, few among us would have predicted the events ahead.

A clear, determined decision to leave the European Union and forge a bold, new, confident future for ourselves in the world.

And, of course, a new President-elect in the US who defied the polls and the pundits all the way up to election day itself.

Change is in the air. And when people demand change, it is the job of politicians to respond.

But it’s also the job of all those in positions of influence and power – politicians, business leaders and others – to understand the drivers of that demand too.

And I think that if we take a step back and look at the world around us, one of the most important drivers becomes clear – the forces of liberalism and globalisation which have held sway in Britain, America and across the Western world for years have left too many people behind.

Let’s be clear: those forces have had – and continue to have – an overwhelmingly positive impact on our world.

Liberalism and globalisation have delivered unprecedented levels of wealth and opportunity. They have lifted millions out of poverty around the world. They have brought nations closer together, broken down barriers and improved standards of living and consumer choice. And they underpin the rules-based international system that is key to global prosperity and security and which I am clear we must protect and seek to strengthen.

But we can’t deny – as I know you recognise – that there have been downsides to globalisation in recent years, and that – in our zeal and enthusiasm to promote this agenda as the answer to all our ills – we have on occasion overlooked the impact on those closer to home who see these forces in a different light.

These people – often those on modest to low incomes living in rich countries like our own – see their jobs being outsourced and wages undercut. They see their communities changing around them and don’t remember agreeing to that change.

They see the emergence of a new global elite who sometimes seem to play by a different set of rules and whose lives are far removed from their everyday existence. And the tensions and differences between those who are gaining from globalisation and those who feel they are losing out have been exposed ever more starkly through the growth of social media.

So if we are to continue to make the case for liberalism and globalisation, as we must, we have also to face up to and respond to these concerns.

If we believe, as I do, that liberalism and globalisation continue to offer the best future for our world, we must deal with the downsides and show that we can make these twin forces work for everyone.

Because when you refuse to accept that globalisation in its current form has left too many people behind, you’re not sowing the seeds for its growth but for its ruin.

When you fail to see that the liberal consensus that has held sway for decades has failed to maintain the consent of many people, you’re not the champion of liberalism but the enemy of it.

When you dismiss the very real and deeply felt concerns of ordinary people, whether here at home or abroad, you are not acting to defend your world view but to undermine it.

And there is no contradiction between embracing globalisation, and saying it has to be managed to work for everyone.

Indeed, as anti-globalisation sentiment grows, it is incumbent on those of us in positions of leadership to respond: to make sense of the changing world around us and to shape a new approach that preserves the best of what works, and evolves and adapts what does not.

That is the true mark of leadership. Not standing inflexibly, refusing to change and still fighting the battles of the past, but adapting to the moment, evolving our thinking and seizing the opportunities ahead.

That is the kind of leadership we need today. And I believe that it is Britain’s historic global opportunity to provide it.

So often over our long history, this country has set the template for others to follow. We have so often been the pioneer – the outrider – that has acted to usher in a new idea or approach.

And we have that same opportunity today.

To show the world that we can be the strongest global advocate for free markets and free trade because we believe they are the best way to lift people out of poverty but that we can also do much more to ensure the prosperity they provide is shared by all.

To demonstrate that we can be the strongest global advocate for the role businesses play in creating jobs, generating wealth and supporting a strong economy and society but that we can also recognise that when a minority of businesses and business figures appear to game the system and work to a different set of rules, the social contract between businesses and society fails – and the reputation of business as a whole is undermined.

To show that our departure from the European Union is not – as some people have wrongly argued – Britain stepping back from the world, but an example of how a free, flexible, ambitious country can step up to a new global role in which, alongside the traditional trading blocs, agile nation states like Britain can trade freely with others according to what’s in their own best interests and those of their people.

This is a new direction – a new approach to managing the forces of globalisation so that they work for all – and it is the course on which the government I lead has embarked.

Free markets and free trade

For over 6 centuries this very banquet has celebrated the pioneering brilliance of our nation as a global champion of free trade.

Now, as we leave the European Union, I believe we can show the way forward again.

First, for as long as we are members of the EU, we will continue to lead the way in pressing for an ambitious EU trade agenda, just as we have done in supporting the very welcome recent EU-Canada deal.

Second, as we leave the European Union, we will also use the strength and size of our economy to lead the way in getting out into the world and doing new business with old allies and new partners alike. We will use the freedoms that come from negotiating with partners directly, to be flexible, to set our own rules and forge new and dynamic trading agreements that work for the whole UK.

That is also why, in our negotiations on leaving the European Union, we are not trying to replicate the deal that any other country has with the EU. And we are not going for an off-the-shelf solution.

All of us here tonight know that there is not some choice between hard Brexit and soft Brexit. It is about how business and government works together to get the best deal; the right deal for Britain and the right deal for businesses working across the continent.

But third, to be the true global champion of free trade in this new modern world, we also need to do something to help those families and communities who can lose out from it.

So government cannot afford to take a hands-off approach. We have to act to ensure that the prosperity delivered by free trade and free markets is shared by all.

That is why in Britain we are developing a new industrial strategy that will seek to ensure working people in every part of the country can really benefit from the opportunities that trade brings.

There are people with great new businesses, and brilliant new inventions in every part of this country. Huge untapped potential.

So our new modern industrial strategy will back the strengths of every area: their great universities; their clusters of dynamic businesses; their fast growing start-ups, so that all parts of our country and all parts of our society see the benefits of growth.

This won’t be about propping up failing industries or picking winners – that is the job of competition and free markets. It will be about getting Britain firing on all cylinders again by creating the conditions where winners can emerge and grow, across all sectors, in all parts of the country and for the benefit of all.

And I believe this can be a template that other nations can follow.

As I argued at my first G20 summit earlier this year, we need every nation – developed and developing – to ensure that the benefits of trade are fairly shared. This will not just be good for them; it will enhance our own prosperity too. And it will be fundamental in maintaining global support for the free trade and open markets that we believe in.

The role of business

So there is a clear role for governments. But businesses have an important role to play in this new future too.

If you listen to some of my political opponents, you would be forgiven for thinking that business is part of the problem. I am clear that for a global Britain to thrive in a global economy, business is part of the solution.

The economic recovery since the financial crisis almost a decade ago has shown what business can achieve, with a record number of people in work and more businesses than ever.

And business is also at the forefront of driving social change around the world, as I saw first-hand on my visit to India last week, with British businesses like Kano using technology to teach children to code; and Oxford Nanopore, specialists in gene sequencing, whose work could help dramatically reduce the costs involved in screening illnesses in India.

So the government I lead is unequivocally and unashamedly pro-business.

We will not duck the big decisions on which your success depends, whether it’s High Speed 2, Hinkley Point or Heathrow.

We will ensure confidence and stability in our economy by continuing to cut the deficit – and together with the work of our independent Bank of England – support new opportunities for business to create jobs.

We will do everything we can to make the UK outside the EU the most attractive place for businesses to invest and grow.

Already by showing our commitment to the UK’s future competitiveness, we have secured a new deal with Nissan in the north-east and a ground-breaking agreement with America that Wales will not just be the European hub, but rather a global hub for maintaining, repairing, overhauling and upgrading the F35 fighter aircraft.

And, as I have said, through our industrial strategy we will pro-actively support the industries of the future, as well as those like financial services, where we already have a world leading competitive advantage.

And we will rebalance the economy across sectors and geographical areas in order to spread wealth and prosperity around the country.

But in return, it is right to ask business to play its part in ensuring we build a country that works for everyone.

And that British business, which is so often on the frontline of our engagement with the world and whose actions so often project our values in the world, is seen not just to do business but to do that business in the right way.

I know many of you in this room recognise this responsibility, but others have voiced their suspicion of what they see as a growing anti-business agenda. I don’t agree. It is because I believe so passionately in business that I say this. Asking business to work with government to play its part is profoundly pro-business, because it is fundamental to retaining faith in capitalism and free markets.

And again it is Britain – and specifically many of you here in this room tonight – who can lead the way in the world.

The great history of our livery companies stems from the fundamental principle that business is not just there to benefit business itself, but also to advance the common good.

Since the 12th century, the guilds and livery companies have not only promoted trade and business, but also training and skills, research and innovation. They led by example, developing the simplest and best form of corporate governance there has ever been: ‘my word is my bond’.

They built almshouses for members in sickness and old age, and continue to take a lead in broader charitable programmes – giving over £48 million to charitable causes last year alone.

How different their ethos is from that small minority who believe they can operate by a different set of rules, and who recklessly damage the entire business community in the process.

Together we can forge a modern version of the responsible approach to business that has been championed by our livery companies for generations.

And in doing so, we can preserve and celebrate the power of business to create jobs and prosperity for us all.


So at this moment of change, we must respond with calm, determined, global leadership to shape a new era of globalisation that genuinely works for all.

We should be confident about our ability to do so.

Because British leadership is already playing a pivotal role in meeting so many of the global challenges that affect our security and prosperity.

It is Britain that is in the vanguard of the fight against global terrorism, working across borders to disrupt the networks terrorists use to finance their operations and recruit to their ranks – and which just 2 months ago secured a first ever UN Security Council Resolution on aviation security.

It is Britain that is the only country in the G20 to meet its commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence and 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development, driving forward the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate absolute poverty by the end of the next decade.

It is Britain that is a leading member of the coalition supporting Iraq to defeat the scourge of Daesh; that has agreed to send 800 troops to Estonia as part of NATO’s presence in eastern Europe; that is supporting Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram; and that is reinforcing its commitment to peacekeeping forces in South Sudan, Somalia and Kosovo.

And it is Britain that is leading the way in pioneering international efforts to crack down on modern slavery wherever it is found.

Time and again, it is British leadership – British hard and soft power – that is at the forefront of how the world responds to the greatest challenges of our time.

So I stand here confident that in facing these new challenges, once again, Britain can lead.

That together, we can shape a new approach to globalisation to enhance the prosperity of not just some of our citizens, but all of our citizens.

That together, by meeting this national moment with a truly national effort, we unite our whole country by making the UK a country that works for everyone.

That together, we can rise to this moment and seize this great global opportunity of our time, to provide the leadership that will ensure the prosperity of your businesses, the success of our country, and the future of the world we want to leave for our children.

So let us seize the moment. And let us do so together.

Continue reading...


War Hero
Kuala Lumpur, 13 Nov 2016: A morning of sombre reflection, as guests came together at Tugu Negara, to honour the contribution of Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the 2 World Wars and later conflicts. The service particularly marked 75 years since the start of the Malayan Campaign.

Honoured guest Tunku Zain Al-Abidin Tuanku Muhriz, son of Yang diPertuan Besar Negri Sembilan Tuanku Muhriz Almarhum Tuanku Munawir attended in full military uniform as the formal representative of the British Malaysian Society.

Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Defence Advisers from over 20 countries stood in respectful silence alongside representatives from the Malaysian Armed Forces, Sikh Veterans Association, presidents of local societies, head teachers of schools and representatives from the Kuala Lumpur Cubs, Scouts and Guides.

As guests arrived the KL Pipes and Drums band performed a stirring rendition of traditional music. The service formally began with guests joining the voices of the Garden International School choir in singing the hymn ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’. British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Her Excellency Vicki Treadell CMG MVO then delivered her address, saying:

Today we mark the 75th year since the start of the Malayan Campaign. We recognise the debt we owe all those, be it military or civilian, who gave of themselves for the Allied cause. We laud their comradeship and we remember their sacrifice.

In her speech, Treadell also paid special tribute to the British Indian Army and the Sikh contribution during the Malayan Campaign.

The service continued with reflections by Mr Andrew Hwang, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and Maj. Tara Singh, Malaysian Armed Forces Sikh Veterans Association. The event also featured readings of “In Flanders Fields” and “For the Fallen” read by Anoushka Upadhyay and Julia Lee from Garden International School.

Two minutes of silence were held in respect of the fallen, with the Last Post and Reveille on trumpet performed by Mr Joseph Jenkinson of the British High Commission. The ceremony ended with the laying of wreaths at the base of the Cenotaph, an apt tribute to those who gave their lives in the name of peace.

Following the ceremony, the High Commissioner hosted breakfast for guests at her Residence where a special presentation took place honouring Malaysian army veteran Mr Meha Singh Kishen Singh. Meha, who served as Lance Corporal with the British Army General Service Corps from 1955 to 1959, was awarded the HM Armed Forces Veteran’s Badge in recognition of his service. Meha was delighted to receive his award, saying:

I served in the British Army back in 1955 and it is a great honour to receive my Veterans Badge in recognition for my services to the United Kingdom. I was not aware that there was such a badge, and I am grateful to the British High Commission Defence Section for applying for the badge on my behalf. I shall wear it with pride.

Continue reading...


War Hero
High Commissioner, Honourable Deputy Minister of Defence, Chairman of the Veterans Administration of Ghana, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Senior Officers of the Ghana Armed Forces (serving and retired), Former members of the British Armed Forces living here in Ghana, Distinguished invited guests and of course, Veterans of the Ghana Armed Forces, ladies and Gentlemen - good afternoon – and I too wish to add my welcome to you all as we gather on one of the most important days of the year. I wish to thank the High Commissioner and his wife for again hosting this event here at their Residence. And, it is my particular pleasure to welcome Lt Col Felix Hammond, Pte Yao Asare, and Sgt Clement Adranu - 3 of Ghana’s World War Two veterans. Gentlemen, you are most welcome.

As ever, we are very grateful for the considerable assistance we have received that has enabled us to deliver this event today. I would like to thank the Labadi Beach Hotel, the Accra Brewery Company, Blue Skies, Clifton Homes and Unilever Ghana for their extremely generous support. I would also like to thank the Ghana Armed Forces and especially the Director of Music by whose kind permission the Band is playing today. I thank the staff of the British High Commission for their efforts in ensuring that we are all accommodated here today and, finally, I thank you all for coming to mark the occasion and to demonstrate your support for Ghana’s veterans.

This is my first Remembrance Day in Ghana – as such, this has given me cause to reflect not only on the sacrifices of British servicemen and women, but also this year on the sacrifices made by Ghanaian veterans.

I know that my predecessor would have spoken previously on the role of Ghanaians and other African soldiers during the First World War – especially given the 100th anniversary 2 years ago of the start of that war. Indeed, we are in a period of 100th anniversaries of First World War events, as we move towards 2018. The High Commissioner has mentioned already the centenary of the Battle of the Somme this year and the role of the Gold Coast Regiment in Togo, Cameroon and in East Africa in that period. But, I must admit to having been surprised when I first learnt that the opening shots of that war were fired by Regimental Sergeant Major Alhaji Grunshi (then a Corporal) on 6 August 1914.

But, I suspect there are many who do not fully comprehend the significant contribution made by African forces in the defence of the British Empire – from as early as the 1880s through to that point in history where those forces assumed responsibility for the defence of their newly independent nations – beginning in West Africa with Ghana in 1957, as we know.

That contribution continued through the inter-war years, and of course into, through and beyond World War Two. And it is indeed my great honour to particularly welcome veterans from that conflict who are here today as representatives of all those who fought in Kenya’s Northern Frontier District, Italian Somaliland, Abyssinia and, of course, in Burma. Gentlemen, once again, you are very welcome.

But, I would also wish to highlight that their contribution and sacrifice did not simply end when the fighting ceased. As we know, last year saw the anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1945. The 81st and 82nd West Africa Divisions fulfilled a key part in the offensive to recapture Burma in 1944 and 1945. But, having operated in a truly inhospitable environment, suffering severe privations, and having encountered some of the fiercest close jungle fighting experienced – the West African Divisions’ contribution did not end in 1945. Indeed, whilst some forces were required to move to Malaya and the Netherland East Indies, the 81st Division was required to remain in India and the 82nd in Burma – and it was not actually until 1946 that these Divisions were able to return home to West Africa.

Sadly, the number of Second World War veterans who can provide us with a personal link to their war is diminishing as the years advance. As such, we each have a responsibility to ensure their sacrifices are not forgotten – but increasingly this also provides us with a challenge to ensure that Remembrance is relevant to a younger generation. Those of us who serve, or have served, or have lost someone in conflict, know what Remembrance means to us – it is important, because it is personal. But, as our personal links with historic conflicts become fewer, so we must work to explain to the next generation just what their fore-fathers have sacrificed – and why.

I am therefore very pleased to welcome today representatives from the Multi-Kids Academy – especially Sean Pobee and Merita Haldane-Lutterodt, and 2 of their teachers - Farouk Iliasu and their Principal, Amanda Budge - the children of Multi-Kids have provided the centre-pieces today as a mark of their Remembrance and a sign of appreciation from a younger generation for the sacrifices made by Ghana’s veterans. I thank you and it is very good to have you here with us today.

Later, I am also pleased to say that Derrick Cobbinah, who many of you will know as one of the founders of the charity Forces Help Ghana – will introduce you to a project that he is working on here in Ghana, which will raise the profile of the role of the African forces, and in doing so, will seek to increase public understanding of the contributions made by those forces to the Defence of the British Empire between the 1880s and 1960s. In doing so, I hope that this will be one aide in providing relevance for Remembrance in the coming years – it certainly serves as a reminder to me of the historic contribution made by forces raised here in West Africa – a contribution that must not be forgotten.

Within Ghana today, I also recognise the significant role played by the Veterans Administration of Ghana in marking the contribution made by all Ghana’s veterans. Indeed, just last week I was extremely honoured to represent the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League in presenting a new hearse to the Veterans Administration. This is just one symbol of the continuing respect that the United Kingdom has for Ghana’s veterans. Regrettably, although perhaps fittingly, it is with sadness that I noted that the hearse will be used for the first time to convey the VAG’s own late Executive Director Col Chris Nutakor, who personally played a large role in securing the donation of this hearse from the RCEL. But, this is also a mark of how the Veterans Administration seeks to support Ghana’s veterans to the very end – they deserve nothing less.

Ladies and Gentlemen, for many Remembrance is a personal experience, but it is also a public responsibility – and this takes commitment – to say the words “Lest we Forget” is easy, to ensure that we live up to those words is less so. And so, it is right that we honour today the memory of those who have lost their lives. We here today enjoy freedoms fought for by the Veterans we honour, including those sat with us today – and of course their colleagues who sacrificed their lives for those freedoms.

Therefore, I commend to you all the work of the Veterans Administration of Ghana, the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League, and Forces Help Ghana in their continuing efforts to look after Ghana’s veterans and to keep alive the memory of their sacrifices.

And we remember too these sacrifices continue to be made by the Armed Forces of all our countries in recent years. As the United Kingdom commits more personnel to UN peacekeeping in South Sudan and Somalia, it is with clear recognition that Ghana has almost 2,500 soldiers deployed across 10 ongoing UN missions, with 135 personnel from their ranks who have given their lives on operations since 1960.

This is a truly commendable contribution, but with a heavy price paid for peace in our world. Their sacrifices are relevant to us, because they are sacrifices made in our world, in our time and for our benefit. But this also provides us with a link to those who have gone before in the First World War, the Second World War, and numerous other conflicts, who also fought for peace - in their world and in their time - but, ‘Lest We Forget’ it is still we, who today live with the benefit of their sacrifices.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you all for coming today to honour Ghana’s Veterans and to share a few hours with them. Please enjoy your lunch and the remainder of the afternoon.

Continue reading...


War Hero
Sir Michael made the announcement, which further deepens the UK-France defence relationship, at the Franco-British Council meeting today in Paris.

The revolutionary Cross-Channel Centres of Excellence Strategy will allow Franco-British defence company MBDA to develop cutting-edge technology in the UK and France while increasing efficiency.

The creation of specialised Centres of Excellence for missile technology will support 400 skilled jobs at MBDA’s UK sites in Stevenage and Bolton.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

To keep Britain strong, it’s vital we develop mutual security through innovation and co-operation. By securing a rising defence budget, working with allies and investing in Centres of Excellence, we can keep Britain at the cutting-edge of technology.

This Franco-British defence co-operation ensures high-skilled jobs through innovation and will help keep Britain safer and more secure.

Building on recent Franco-British commitments to work more closely, the strategy seeks to extend the boundaries of traditional interstate co-operation, to the advantage of both countries, including by increasing UK and French military capability and promoting competitiveness in exports.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin added:

The UK and France are the biggest European investors in equipment, and defence projects such as these Centres of Excellence will ensure we work effectively and innovatively with industry to secure the very best deal for the tax payer.

The UK is investing £178 billion so that our Armed Forces have the equipment they need to keep Britain safe.

During his visit the Defence Secretary also praised the UK and France’s deep and enduring partnership on operations against Daesh. The British and French militaries work closely together on a daily basis. RAF Voyager tankers often refuel French Rafales, as well as RAF jets. The RAF and French air force also team up to jointly strike more difficult targets, most recently in western Iraq, where RAF Tornados carrying Stormshadow missiles, and French aircraft successfully destroyed a large group of Saddam Hussein era bunkers used by Daesh for weapons manufacture. And only last week, near Mosul, an RAF Reaper crew was able to guide French Rafale jets onto a Daesh mortar team, striking the terrorists and eliminating the threat they were posing to Iraqi troops.

In a further boost to innovation the visit comes shortly after the launch of the next phase of a £117 million joint Franco-British Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) programme.

The MMCM programme will develop cutting edge maritime mine warfare capability, which will keep the UK and France at the forefront of autonomous systems technology. The development and deployment of unmanned mine clearance vehicle will help keep our personnel safe in challenging maritime environments.

The announcement on Centres of Excellence came at the annual meeting of the Franco-British Council, an organisation set up in the 1970s to foster closer UK-French ties. 2016’s conference underlined the continuing strength and progress of the Lancaster House agreement, which is a fundament part of Britain and France’s defence relationship.

Continue reading...


War Hero
A British Army team from 1 (UK) Division will deploy early in the new year to train Malawi park rangers as combat tracking instructors, which will in turn help neutralise the threat of poaching, and bring those responsible to justice.

This UK support, initially focused on Malawi, could be extended and potentially reach out to a wider audience in other African countries. This training forms part of a three-year plan, agreed by the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to support and fund a series of military-led counter-poaching activities.

Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mike Penning said:

Illegal poaching and organised crime go hand-in-hand and remain a global threat. Our world class Armed Forces are stepping up, demonstrating Britain’s commitment to helping tackle organised crime world-wide.

We will support partners, including Malawi, to help stamp out organised crime and the evil menace of poaching.

Training will be delivered under the guidance of charity the Tusk Trust, and alongside the British Peace Support Team (South Africa) and DEFRA.

Malawi faces significant challenges from poaching, and its elephants are particularly at risk from smugglers attempting to traffic ivory. They form part of wider organised crime and illegal operations in the region, but Malawi as a country is not alone.

UK military personnel have previously carried out anti-poaching training in Gabon, and the British Army Training Unit Kenya is supporting the building of an elephant fence in Kenya to protect the endangered animals from poachers, as well as protecting the British training area, local people and resources.

Continue reading...


War Hero
The new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre will see leading rehabilitation services, currently delivered at Headley Court, move to a purpose-built location at Stanford Hall near Loughborough.

Construction is well under way for the site, set to be four times the size of Headley Court, and is expected to come towards a close around this time next year before the centre becomes operational in 2018.

Minister for Defence Veterans Reserves and Personnel, Mark Lancaster said:

It’s great to see the building work coming along as we remain on track to open this excellent centre in 2018, with good progress being made towards the development of the National part of the DNRC.

The brand new Defence facility will ensure that we can continue to lead the way in medical science and innovative technology to support the brave men and women who make enormous sacrifices to protect our country.

The new location in the Midlands means the site will be more accessible to personnel based in the UK. Significantly, it will also help facilitate a joint provision of care required for rehabilitation, a complex process, as it is closer to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and the University of Birmingham Hospital Trust - the main hospital for receiving military casualties.

The centre will improve and advance the cutting-edge treatments already available to injured members of the armed forces. It will provide immediate access to on-site patient diagnosis and treatment plans, greater advances in medical research and better outdoor facilities to support early stages of recovery.

Continue reading...


War Hero
Speaking with ministerial counterparts in Halifax Sir Michael said Canada had been a part of every major military operation the UK had been involved in this century, from Afghanistan to Ukraine.

He said that UK forces have worked in partnership with Canadians in the Global Coalition against Daesh, with strikes and by helping train Iraqi forces tackling the terror group.

Sir Michael said the UK and Canada had stepped up to meet wider security challenges with contributions to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltic States. The UK will provide the framework battalion for Estonia, while Canada will deploy troops to Latvia. During his visit, the Defence Secretary also discussed the potential for UK and Canadian troops to train on the ground together while deployed to the Baltic, bonding our forces even more closely.

As well as praising the benefits of the British Army’s long-standing training on Canada’s prairies in Suffield and co-operation through the G7 and Commonwealth, Sir Michael said that the UK had benefited from £35bn of inward investment from Canada, largely in infrastructure and regeneration projects.

Reflecting the close relationship, the Defence Secretary’s visit came just two months after the Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan visited the UK and met Sir Michael during the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial. In their bi-lateral discussions in Halifax, the Ministers reviewed progress in their Enhanced Forward Presence planning, opportunities for defence industrial co-operation, progress in the C-Daesh campaign, and UK and Canadian support to Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

Britain and Canada’s relationship spans four centuries: forged under fire on Vimy Ridge and in the ice of the North-West passage.

Today, we face new threats to our common values, from terrorism to aggressive states and Canada and the UK must stand together again.

Now is the time to step up and strengthen our defence and industrial co-operation to secure our nations and our values in a dangerous world.

This close partnership also brings the potential for exports and jobs for the UK. The Royal Navy has announced the steel cut next summer on Type 26 frigates in Scotland and the UK welcomes the Royal Canadian Navy’s interest in applications for bids for their own future warships, which are due to be built in Canada.

More widely, the Defence Secretary said the UK had discussed with Canada what more could be done in the field of peacekeeping, building upon the commitments we made at the London Peacekeeping Conference in September.

Continue reading...


War Hero
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) contracted Balfour Beatty to complete the work at a cost of £42 million. RAF Brize Norton is the Royal Air Force’s largest station and is home to its air transport and air-to-air refuelling fleets.

The RAF will operate 22 A400M Atlas aircraft, replacing the versatile C130 Hercules, in support of the deployment of the Joint Rapid Reaction Force. The tactical and strategic airlift aircraft will enable the RAF to support all 3 services and be interoperable, whilst having the ability to operate from short, unprepared landing strips and also performing at both low level (150 feet (ft) above ground level) and high altitude (up to 40,000ft); ensuring the deployment of conventional and high readiness forces and equipment directly into the operational area.

Since coming into service in March 2015, the A400M has already provided mission support by flying operational cargo to RAF Akrotiri.

The 45 metre long aircraft can carry 25 tonnes of cargo for more than 2,000 nautical miles and has a wingspan of nearly 42.5 metres.

The hangar can house 3 A400M Atlas aircraft as well as the C17 Globemaster and the A330 Voyager when static. At 28 metres high, the hangar covers 24,000 metres squared (m2) and used 3,200 tonnes of steel to construct. The roof houses 600m2 solar panels to provide up to 70 kilowatts of electrical power.

Early stages of the project included levelling the site, diverting underground pipes and cables and installing emergency water storage tanks.

The finished structure includes 3 separate bays to hold 3 individual aircraft, a ground equipment store, engine and tyre bays and a 3 storey office and amenities block.

Denis Williams, DIO Project Manager, said:

The A400M Atlas will be the mainstay of the RAF’s air transport fleet so this hangar is a vital facility which will enable the aircraft to be maintained and repaired. I’m delighted to mark the completion of DIO’s role in this pan-defence project.

Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) will now complete a 6 month ‘fit out’ of the interior before the building becomes operational early next year.

Continue reading...


War Hero
One hundred years ago today, one of the bloodiest episodes of the First World War ended as the Somme offensive was abandoned.

Prior to the start of the battle on 1 July 1916, and after months of preparations, the Allied expectation had been of a swift breakthrough, and potentially even the defeat of the German Army on the Western Front. But the attack on the first day was a disaster, with 60,000 British casualties including nearly 20,000 dead. The Allied troops had suffered heavy losses by both machine gun and artillery fire as the Germans emerged from deep dug-outs to defend their positions during the prolonged artillery barrage in the weeks preceding the battle. Many attacks faltered on German barbed wire and reinforcements suffered heavily as German artillery concentrated their fire on the British trenches. Over the following 141 days, the Allies continued to struggle gaining just six miles of territory. Many attacks were launched, often with mixed results and little progress overall. Infantry pressed forward, but ultimately foundered and were unable to seize their objectives. Where surprise could be achieved the results were often successful, but the Allies were never able to exploit local successes.

Technical innovations were also used which surprised the German defenders. On 15 September tanks were used for the first time, but there were insufficient numbers, they were mechanically unreliable, and the tactics were untested. The attack caused initial surprise but this fell away and breakthrough was not achieved.

Despite setbacks Allied tactics continued to develop with ever closer cooperation between infantry, artillery, tanks and the Royal Flying Corps, but German resistance continued to defy all Allied attempts to break through.

Having lost most of the army’s pre-war regular soldiers in the battles of 1914 and 1915, the bulk of the Army was now made up of volunteers of the Territorial Force and Lord Kitchener’s New Army which had been forming since August 1914. The vastly expanded armies on both sides lacked experience at every level of command and both had the weapons to make any attack on trench lines and heavily fortified positions very costly. Mounting an offensive meant months of preparation (building roads, railways, camps and water supplies) but such efforts meant surprise was difficult and the problems of exploiting success proved insurmountable. The British had fielded new technology and achieved limited success, but not on the scale needed.

By the time the offensive was finally called off on 18 November, the Allies had lost around 620,000 men and the Germans 450,000. Allied success was limited; the British ‘Kitchener’ Army had developed as a fighting force, Commonwealth forces had distinguished themselves, the front line had advanced some six miles on a twelve mile front, and the Germans had been forced to divert troops away from Verdun. But no breakthrough had been achieved, the German fighting spirit had not been broken, and they too had learnt lessons.

Continue reading...


War Hero
Prime Minister Theresa May

Thank you very much Angela, thank you for your welcome today. I’m delighted to be making my second visit to Berlin as Prime Minister of the UK. Thank you for bringing the group together this morning because it gave us an opportunity to thank President Obama for the contribution that he has made over the years and to wish him well for the future, but also to discuss a number of the key challenges that we face – Daesh, Syria, Russia, migration – challenges that we will deal with by working together, by working collectively.

That’s what we’ve always done as Britain and Germany, it’s what the UK will continue to do when we leave the European Union, including through international groupings such as this. On Syria of course, looking at Aleppo, we were united in our condemnation of the atrocities that are taking place there. We agreed the need to keep up the pressure on Russia, including the possibility of sanctions on those who breach international humanitarian law.

On migration, I think we want to galvanise a greater international response including looking at what can be done through the G7 and the G20 next year. Of course, in our bilateral this afternoon we will be able to look at a number of issues as we look ahead to the December European Council, where migration and security will be discussed, and there on migration I think we will be looking for, and we support, EU actions to work in source countries to deal with the root causes of migration.

On security, as was discussed at the Foreign Affairs Council earlier this week, we support efforts to strengthen European security where those complement NATO, and as I said by working together on a number of these issues, these are the ways in which we can solve the problems and challenges that we’re facing. I will be able to update Chancellor Merkel on where we are with our Brexit preparations – our work is on track, we do stand ready to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017, that’s next year, and I want to see this as a smooth process, an orderly process, working towards a solution that is in the interests of both the United Kingdom but also in the interests of our European partners too.

Chancellor Merkel

Now we have the opportunity to discuss bilateral matters and issues that we need to jointly sort in the European Union. I am glad to have the opportunity for this exchange of views. We will not be able to discuss in depth the issue of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, because the Prime Minister has said that she will make the request to invoke Article 50 by the end of March at the latest. We accept that and are waiting for this request.

But there are of course a variety of shared challenges which we will discuss in depth, particularly the issue of migration and partnership with the African continent. Also important of course is the broader economic situation in Europe and the world. Germany will take on the G20 Presidency on 1 December and we will also discuss the co-operation in the preparations for G20, G7 and in NATO. So this is a good opportunity for an exchange of views, and so welcome to Berlin, Theresa.

Continue reading...