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15 July 2009 : Column WS79

Written Statements

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Afghanistan

Statement

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My right honourable friend the Member for Barrow and Furness announced in his Statement to the House on 29 April 2009, that Headquarters, 6 (UK) Division would command the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command (South) from November 2009 to November 2010 (Official Report, col. 46WS).

The next routine roulement of UK forces in Afghanistan will take place in October 2009. The force package that we plan to deploy will see the current lead brigade, 19 Light Brigade, replaced by 11 Light Brigade which will be committed to Afghanistan until April 2010.

The forces deploying include:



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Headquarters, 6 (UK) Division

11 Light Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron (261)

Headquarters, 8 Force Engineer Brigade

Headquarters, 101 Logistic Brigade

Elements of 845 Naval Air Squadron

Elements of 846 Naval Air Squadron

Elements of 857 Naval Air Squadron

Elements of Fleet Diving Unit III

The Household Cavalry Regiment

1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery

28 Engineer Regiment

1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards

2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment

1st Battalion The Royal Welsh

3rd Battalion The Rifles

10 Queen's Own Ghurkha Logistic Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

33 Field Hospital

104 Force Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

160 Provost Company Royal Military Police

Elements of 1st Royal Tank Regiment

Elements of 2nd Royal Tank Regiment

Elements of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 12th Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 16th Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 39th Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)

Elements of 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support)

Elements of 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic)

Elements of 101 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) (Volunteers)

Elements of 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group

Elements of 2 (National Communications) Signal Brigade

Elements of 1st (United Kingdom) Armoured Division Headquarters & Signal Regiment

Elements of 7th Signal Regiment

Elements of 10th Signal Regiment

Elements of 14th Signals Regiment (Electronic Warfare)

Elements of 21st Signal Regiment (Air Support)

Elements of 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards

Elements of The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

Elements of 4th Battalion The Lancashire Regiment

Elements of 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment

Elements of 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh

Elements of 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh

Elements of 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment

Elements of 4th Battalion The Rifles

Elements of 1 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Elements of 3 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Elements of 4 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Elements of 9 Regiment, Army Air Corps

Elements of 9 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 24 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 27 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 29 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Support Battalion

Elements of 6 Close Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Elements of 7 Air Assault Battalion Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers

Elements of 102 Military Working Dog Support Unit

Elements of 1 Military Intelligence Brigade

Elements of the Joint Civil Military Co-operation Group (CIMIC)

Elements of 148 Expeditionary Force Institute Squadron (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of Joint Medical Command

Elements of 253 Medical Regiment (Volunteers)

Elements of 254 Medical Regiment (Volunteers)

Elements of 205 Field Hospital (Volunteers)

Elements of 256 Field Hospital (Volunteers)

Number 1 Royal Air Force, Force Protection Wing Headquarters

Number 2 Royal Air Force, Force Protection Wing Headquarters

Number 3 Royal Air Force, Force Protection Wing Headquarters

Number 8 Royal Air Force, Force Protection Wing Headquarters

Elements of Number 3 Royal Air Force Police Wing

2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment

27 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment

Elements of 3 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment

Elements of 34 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment

9 Squadron, Royal Air Force

31 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 5 (Army Co-Operation) Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 12 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 14 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 18 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 24 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 27 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 28 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 30 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 78 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 617 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of the Tactical Supply Wing, Royal Air Force

Elements of 1 Air Mobility Wing, Royal Air Force

Elements of 1 Air Control Centre, Royal Air Force

Elements of 90 Signals Unit, Royal Air Force

Elements of 2( Mechanical Transport) Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 5001 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Elements of 3 Mobile Catering Squadron

Elements of Tactical Medical Wing

Elements of 93 (Expeditionary Armaments) Squadron

Elements of Tactical Imagery Wing

Volunteer and regular members of the Reserve Forces will continue to deploy to Afghanistan as part of our integrated force package, and we expect to issue around 710 call-out notices to fill some 650 posts. On completion of their mobilisation procedures, the reservists will undertake a period of training and, where applicable, integration with their respective receiving units. The majority will serve on operations for six or so months. As part of this commitment, we expect up to 21 members of the sponsored reserves to be in theatre at any one time.

I shall make a further Statement on the units we expect to commit under 11 Light Brigade's planned replacement formation, 4 Mechanised Brigade, nearer the time of their deployment.

Armed Forces: Coroners' Inquests

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Bridget Prentice, has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My honourable friend the Minister for the Armed Forces and I wish to make the latest in the series of quarterly Statements to the House about the inquests of service personnel and others who have died overseas. Our deepest condolences go, as ever, to the families of the service personnel who have lost their lives in the service of their country, and in particular to the 31 who have died since our last Statement.

All of the families whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, or who have otherwise lost their lives in connection with the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, remain very much in our thoughts.

Today, we are announcing the progress that has been made since the Written Ministerial Statement on 5 May 2009 (Official Report, col. 7WS), with information about the conduct of inquests by the Wiltshire and Swindon and other coroners. This Statement gives the position at 6 July.

The tables which accompany this Statement again include information about those cases which involve a Board of Inquiry or a Service Inquiry.

Progress with inquests

At the time of the last Statement, we reported that, up to 27 April, 230 inquests had been held since June 2006: 216 into the overseas deaths of service personnel and 14 into the deaths of civilians in Iraq whose bodies were repatriated via RAF Brize Norton or RAF Lyneham.

Since 27 April, a further 11 inquests have been held into the deaths of service personnel who died in operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. This makes a total of 241 inquests held since June 2006.



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Since operations commenced in 2001, there have been a total of 265 inquests into the deaths of service personnel who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, including five service personnel who died in the UK of their injuries. In two further cases, no formal inquest was held, but the deaths were taken into consideration during inquest proceedings for those who died in the same incident.

We remain deeply grateful for the efforts of all of the coroners who are involved in conducting these inquests, and totally committed in our support for the independent coronial system.

Our departments continue to work closely together, and with the coroners, to review the way in which the system is working and to look for opportunities, prior to the implementation of the coroners legislation which is currently before Parliament in the Coroners and Justice Bill, to make improvements for the benefit of the bereaved families.

Open inquests

Pre-31 March 2007 fatalities

The Statement in May reported that there was one remaining inquest to be held into a death where the body was repatriated via RAF Brize Norton prior to 31 March 2007, into the death of Marine Wigley. That inquest has since been concluded and there are no outstanding pre-March 31 2007 inquests in the Oxfordshire coroner's district.

Post-1 April 2007 fatalities

Since October 2007, additional resources have been provided by the Government to ensure that a backlog of inquests does not build up in the Wiltshire and Swindon district (since 1 April 2007 fatalities have been repatriated via RAF Lyneham). The coroner transfers inquests for service personnel to a coroner closer to the bereaved family, where possible. We are pleased that the district continues to benefit from the experience and expertise of David Masters, who retired as coroner on 31 March, following his appointment as an assistant deputy coroner by his successor, David Ridley.

There are 76 open inquests to be concluded into the deaths of service personnel who died in Iraq and Afghanistan whose bodies were repatriated after 1 April 2007 (36 involving deaths in the past six months). Of these, Mr Ridley has retained 41 inquests, whilst 35 inquests are being conducted by coroners closer to the next-of-kin. At 6 July two fatalities had been repatriated but inquests were yet to be opened, and four recent fatalities awaited repatriation. Hearing dates have been set in 22 of these cases.

Inquests into the deaths of service personnel who returned home injured

There remain six inquests to be held of service personnel who returned home injured and subsequently died of their injuries.

We shall continue to keep the House informed about progress with the remaining inquests. I have placed tables in the Library of the House which outline the status of all cases and the date of death in each case. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.


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