Wires Brief: 24 Engineer Commando Regiment saved, Ukrainian soldiers deployed to eastern towns, Taliban envoy missing

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16 April 2014 – London, UK

Digital Wires

United Kingdom

24 Commando Engineer Regiment has been saved from cuts, various media outlets have reported. The Ministry of Defence announced that the regiment would be axed, but only face certain cuts. In 2012,  it will announced that the Regiment would be axed as the Army planned to reduce the size of Army from 102,000 to 82,000 personnel by 2020.

The First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas has written in the Telegraph that the security of Scotland and the United Kingdom would be compromised if Scotland chooses independence as it would weaken the effectiveness of the Royal Navy. There are 16 ships and two Royal Marines Commando units based in Scotland.

Europe

Ukrainian soldiers have been deployed near eastern Ukrainian cities amid the growing protests by separatists, reports FT. Pro-Russian forces have taken control of government buildings in the region. Unconfirmed reports of gunfire near the town of Kramatorsk have been reported.Poland’s Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told Reuters that a significant amount NATO troops should be stationed in eastern Europe. Siemoniak will be traveling to the US this week and it is believed that the deployment of additional US assets will be on the table. According to Siemoniak, the US is planning for a base in eastern Europe, but it cannot be approved until the alliance’s summit in September.

Russia

An unarmed Russian Su-24 Fencer jet fighter flew repeatedly near the USS Donald Cook in international waters in the Black Sea, according to the US Navy. Two aircraft were present, but only one took provocative actions. It is believed that the two pilots did not decide to take such an action alone.

North America

The Guardian reports that a new documentary will claim that regular US Air Force personnel carried out the CIA’s drone strikes in Pakistan. It was believed that civilian contracts had been flying the armed drones in Pakistani air space. The new documentary is by Tonje Schei and is entitled “Drone”. The US Air Force is increasing its mission in Africa with the drawdown in Afghanistan, reports Stars and Stripes. Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti, will be expanded to accommodate the increase and increase operational flexibility.

The Canadian government and Sikorsky Helicopters have agreed on a contract amendment for the delivery of the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters, reports the Canadian Press. The CAD 5.7 billion (GBP 3.1 billion) contract for 28 helicopters is years behind schedule as Canada continues to fly its, now 50 year-old, Sea King helicopter fleet.

Africa

Libya adjourned the trial of deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi’s sons and dozens of his ex-officials, reports Reuters. Some of the investigations have not been completed. The defendants face charges of from corruption to war crimes. There are some concerns of whether the defendants will face a fair trial as the defence has been overburdened with thousands of pages of evidence and no lawyers were present during interrogations.

Over 100 Nigerian schoolgirls have been kidnapped from a school in northeast Nigeria by extremists, reports AP. All schools in the Borno state were closed three weeks ago due to the increase of militant attacks. It is suspected that Boko Haram is responsible.

Mali’s president warned that Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the former leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and mastermind of the attack on the In Amenas gas plant, is a threat to regional security. It is believed that Belmokhtar is hiding in Libya. French forces have been trying to rout Islamic extremists from Northern Mali, but it is believed that the insurgents are regrouping. Mali’s entire government also submitted its resignation last week, which does not bode well for the peace process.

Middle East

The UN will be releasing a report stating that Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon has been greatly reduced, reports AP. This is because Iran has diluted half of the material that can be quickly be turned into weapons-grade uranium into low-enriched uranium.

A gas attack in the Syrian town of Kafr Zita is suspected. Saudi Arabia has condemned the alleged attack and accuses the Assad regime of carrying out the suspected chlorine gas attack. Saudi Arabia is also the largest supporters of the uprising. The Syrian  Army has launched an offensive in the city of Homs, according to state TV.

Asia-Pacific

A prominent Afghan Taliban figure, who launched a peace overture with the government in Kabul, disappeared in the UAE, reports ToloNews. Mutasim Agha Jan, the Taliban’s chief of political affairs, has frequently traveled to the UAE for peace negotiations. It is rumoured that Aga Jan has been abducted.

Chosun Ilbo reports that North Korea is planning a large demonstration of its military firepower to celebrate the birthday of Kim Il-Sung. North Korea has also deployed the new, improved, longer-range version of its 240 mm multiple rocket launchers. It is believed that new equipment and demonstrations will occur between 15 April (Kim Il-Sung’s birthday) and 25 April (North Korean Army’s anniversary). North Korea also accuses South Korea of fabricating the alleged drones that crashed in Paju, Baeknyeong Island and Gangwon Province. Chosun Iblo reports that there is more evidence linking the regime to the crashed drones.

Social media wires

A photo of Congolese government soldiers on the front line in Masisi district.

A EC-665 Tiger attack helicopter is being loaded on a Russian Antonov 124-100 which is putatively heading to Mali for French forces.

Putatively, an aerial photo of a neighbourhood in Homs, Syria.

Reports compiled by Stewart Webb

Feature photo / “NATO Press Conference Secretary of State John Kerry – Crimea Crisis” – NATO

The Wires Brief is a mid week breaking news report incorporating wire service news and social media updates. DefRep can not verify the authenticity of social media reporters nor the accuracy of social media updates.

Stewart is the editor for DefenceReport. Stewart holds a MScEcon in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and holds a BA in Political Science from Acadia University. His specialties include South Asian and Canadian defence issues. He has made frequent appearances on CTV National News, and other Canadian media outlets both radio and TV. Stewart can be contacted at: swebb@defencereport.com

About the Author

Stewart Webb
Stewart is the editor for DefenceReport. Stewart holds a MScEcon in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and holds a BA in Political Science from Acadia University. His specialties include South Asian and Canadian defence issues. He has made frequent appearances on CTV National News, and other Canadian media outlets both radio and TV. Stewart can be contacted at: swebb@defencereport.com