Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum from the Ministry of Defence

Asterisks denote that part of the written evidence has not been printed at the request of the Ministry of Defence or Department for International Development and with the agreement of the Committee

(Q41)  HCDC Request: A note on the UK's strategy for reconstruction in Iraq outlining the work of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), including references to publicly available sources from DfID.

  See Annex A

(Q43)  HCDC Request: A note outlining the funding arrangements for the PRT, including details of the amount and proportions of funding invested by the United States, as well as by DfID and MoD.

  See Annex A

(Q44)  HCDC Request: A note on MoD's current estimate of the in-service date of the Hercules replacement, the A400M, including details of whether the fleet will be fitted with explosive suppressant foam before they enter service.

  The current estimate of the A400M In-Service Date is 2011. The A400M Common Standard Aircraft (CSA) will not be fitted with a Fuel Tank Inerting system as standard but an Inert Gas Generation and Distribution (to the fuel tanks) System is available as an option.

  An ongoing study, on Large Aircraft Survivability is due to be published at the end of 2006 and will be used to help inform decisions on fitting Fuel Tank Inerting systems to RAF Air Transport aircraft. The study will compare Explosion Suppressant Foam (as currently being fitted to some C130 aircraft) against Inert Gas systems (as fitted to C-17 and an option for A400M). This study will inform any decision of the fitting of a Fuel Inerting System to the A400M.

(Q58 & Q59)  HCDC Request: A note on the Temporary Detention Facility at the Shaibah Logistics Base outlining, in particular: under what authority the detainees are held; what numbers of detainees are currently held, broken down by gender, length of detention and grounds for detention; which UK military personnel are involved in guarding the Facility and in what roles; and, the review process.

  United Nations Security Council Resolution 1637, adopted at the request of the Provisional Iraqi Government, gives Multi National Force commanders the ability to intern people for imperative reasons of security. It is important that they have this power to protect both their forces and the Iraqi people but it is a power that the UK uses sparingly and only for imperative reasons of security.

  The UK maintains its own Divisional Temporary Detention Facility (DTDF) at Shaibah in Southern Iraq which opened in December 2003. The facility has a capacity of 180 internees. The most held at any one time was 140 in January 2004. The least, seven in October 2004.

  The UK is currently holding around 81 security internees. The internees are all male and range in age from 22 to 56. Three of the internees are Sunni, 78 are Shia. There is one dual UK/Iraqi national in the facility, Mr al-Jedda. The average length of time each one has been detained is 198 days (the 18 month review point is at around 550 days). All of them are held because they are assessed to represent an imperative threat to the security of Coalition forces and Iraqis. The most recent release of internees took place on the 8 June, when five internees were set free.

  There are stringent review procedures to ensure that detainees are released as soon as they cease being an imperative threat to security.

  Individuals held by the UK have their cases reviewed by the Divisional Internment Review Committee. The first review is within 48 hours of internment and monthly thereafter. Individuals have the right to provide written representation at the hearings and have regular access to lawyers.

  A joint Iraqi/coalition detention committee, which is co-chaired by Prime Minister Maliki and the MNF, in Baghdad reviews detention cases after 18 months to assess whether continued internment is necessary. This is a requirement under Iraqi law.

  The High Court found last year that our review procedures met the standards of the Geneva Conventions, subject to a small technical change which has now been rectified in Theatre. We are currently looking closely at ways we can involve the Iraqis in our review process and are in discussions with the Iraqi Government and our Coalition partners to achieve this.

  The guard force at the DTDF the facility is provided by troops from the Grenadier Guards, advised by six members of the Military Provost Staff, who are the military's prisoner handling experts, usually based in Colchester. They provide training to the guard force and are on hand at the facility to provide specialist advice and ensure standards are maintained.

  The International Committee for the Red Cross, and the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights has unfettered access to the DTDF. The ICRC has made regular visits to the facility since it opened in December 2003 and is satisfied with the conditions there as is the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights.

(Q74)  HCDC Request: A note on the numbers and types of UK helicopters deployed in Iraq.


(Q80)  HCDC Request: A note outlining the progress being made on fitting the Hercules C130 fleet with explosive suppressant foam, including details of whether and when Hercules aircraft in theatre in Iraq and Afghanistan will be equipped with this.

  The fitting of Explosion Suppressant Foam (ESF) to some of our Hercules aircraft is currently underway. The aircraft that will be fitted with ESF will operate in both Iraq and Afghanistan and the first aircraft fitted with ESF will be available for Operations within the next few months.

  The programme to fit ESF is being carried out at the most expedient rate at which both the industrial supply chain and Hercules Depth maintenance facilities can carry out the work and the front line command can release aircraft for the work. Accelerating the programme will not be possible without impacting upon aircraft availability for Operations.

(Q83)  HCDC Request: A note outlining the impact of the two Hercules losses upon the work and operation of the Hercules fleet as a whole.

  Despite the loss of two Hercules aircraft, we have been able to sustain the deployed capability requirement and cope with periodic surge requirements. After each of the two aircraft was lost we were able to replace them with aircraft of the same capability in a timely fashion from the balance of the fleet.

  Of course, the loss of these aircraft will reduce the totality of our airlift capacity. As we prioritise all airlift tasking, any impact is most likely to be felt in the support to the exercise programme. Transfer of tasking to other fleets and/or charter airlift helps mitigate against this impact.

(Q86 & Q 90)  HCDC Request: A note identifying the number of Snatch 1 and Snatch 2 Land Rovers deployed in Iraq.


(Q88)  HCDC Request: A note on whether and when the Panther CLV will be made available to the Royal Military Police.

  There are currently no plans to issue the Panther CLV to RMP units. On current operations where there is a specific threat, soft skinned vehicles will not be used and users, including the RMP, will be given protective vehicles in replacement for soft skinned vehicles.

  British forces have a suite of vehicles available in theatre; these vehicles offer different levels of protection. These vary from SNATCH, a Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle or a helicopter. The choice of vehicle for a particular operation, patrol or other journey is dependent on the commander's assessment of the nature of the task and the current threat. The process considers factors such as mobility, fire power and protection and inevitably involves the acceptance of operational risk in some areas.

(Q106)  HCDC Request: A note outlining the UK's future basing strategy in MND (SE) including proposals for the hardening of facilities.

  There is no set timetable for the drawdown of UK force from Iraq; this is a conditions based process. However, we envisage that the process of Provincial Iraqi Control and transition to Operational Over Watch will allow the UK to reduce force levels in MND(SE) over time and consequently rationalise our camp and combat service support requirements, with the potential to reduce to one primary location in 2007.

6 July 2006

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