April 22, 2021
US Army bracing for budget hit next year, A new deal with Norway allows the US to keep an eye on Russian subs closer to Russia’s home turf, MI5 joins Instagram in new era of openness, UK looks to increase contribution to NATO AGS, Indonesia and neighbours scramble to find missing submarine.
Ministry of Defence
HMS Queen Elizabeth: Repairs and Maintenance: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much his Department has spent on repairing fire damage aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth (Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Defence))
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence
“Minor repairs required as a result of fire damage are conducted as part of routine fleet maintenance activity. There has been no fire-related repair activity separate to this.”
HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES
US Army bracing for budget hit next year (Defense News)
• The U.S. Army is bracing for a possible large budget cut in fiscal 2022, a defense official told Defense News.
• The service is preparing contingencies should it face a “huge cut,” which means the Army would potentially have to put modernization and readiness “at risk,” the official said.
• The Army would need to look at ways to more effectively maintain readiness and would possibly have to slow-roll development and procurement schedules for major modernization efforts the service sees as critical to deterring adversaries in the future.
• Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville has already said the service will not be able to grow its end-strength should its budget stay level or shrink; more likely a force would remain at a level similar to the numbers now. The current troop count is about 486,000 in the active force and a little more than a million in the total force.
• “When it comes to what chiefs have to grapple with in a budget, it’s end strength and structure, it’s readiness, and it’s modernization. Those are the three kind of big resource buckets we have,” Gen. James McConville said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Next symposium, held virtually last month.
• The service has also spent several years working a process that has allowed the shifting of billions of dollars from elsewhere in its budget into modernization efforts, but each year it gets tougher to find money to move over to priority programs.
A new deal with Norway allows the US to keep an eye on Russian subs closer to Russia’s home turf (Business Insider)
• A recent deal between the US and Norway will expand the two countries’ defense cooperation, allowing the US to build facilities on Norwegian bases to support operations in a region where Russia’s military is increasingly active.
• The Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement, signed Friday by US and Norwegian officials, allows “unimpeded access to and use of” agreed-upon facilities by US forces for training, refueling, and maintenance, among other activities, according to an English-language version of the agreement released by Norway.
• It would also allow “construction activities on” and “alterations and improvements to” those facilities, which are Rygge and Sola air stations, both near Norway’s southern coast, and Evenes air station and Ramsund naval station, both of which are above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway.
• “These locations have been selected with the aim of strengthening cooperation with the US in the air defence and maritime domains in years to come,” the Norwegian government said.
MI5 joins Instagram in new era of openness (Telegraph)
• The head of MI5 has ushered in a new era of openness, laying out a blueprint for the intelligence agency for the next decade that includes joining social media for the first time.
• Writing exclusively in The Telegraph, Ken McCallum, MI5’s youngest ever director-general, said it was time to cast off any “Martini-drinking stereotypes” and that it would be a “dangerous vanity” for the organisation to try to work “inside its own bubble”.
• Instead, Mr McCallum promised Britain’s domestic intelligence service would “become a more open and connected organisation”.
• In the first ever opinion piece written solely by an MI5 director-general for a national newspaper, Mr McCallum said that the secret service had a “need to engage” with the public, academia and private sector companies, adding: “That is why being more open is a crucial part of MI5’s approach in the 2020s.”
• The strategic decision to promote MI5 more widely includes the agency making its “slightly belated debut on social media” on Instagram, the social networking site used to share photographs and videos by its one billion users. Instagram is used by a much younger audience than Facebook, which owns it.
• He said Instagram offered MI5 an opportunity for “finding new ways to tap into diversity and creativity of UK life” by “reaching out directly” to the public. He said he believed “our open approach … will make a difference to our ability to keep the country safe”.
UK looks to increase contribution to NATO AGS (Janes)
• The United Kingdom has begun discussions with NATO on increasing the UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) contribution to Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) and its five RQ-4D Phoenix unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) based in Sigonella, Sicily.
• The move aims to fill wide area surveillance capability gaps following the retirement in March of the RAF’s five Sentinel R1 airborne stand-off radar (ASTOR) surveillance aircraft, the UK’s contribution in kind to AGS.
• NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu told Janes on 19 April, “NATO’s fleet of AGS surveillance aircraft was declared mission-ready by the alliance’s top commander in February. Following the Sentinel’s last operational flight earlier this year, we are in discussions with the UK government on how to adjust the UK’s contribution to the alliance’s AGS programme. As the Secretary General [Jens Stoltenberg] told Prime Minister [Boris] Johnson in March, the UK has a leading role in NATO. We welcome that the UK continues to field high-tech capabilities including Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft which make important contributions to our shared security.”
Indonesia and neighbours scramble to find missing submarine (Shephard News)
• Indonesia has lost 20% of its submarine capability after a diesel-electric boat went missing off the coast of Bali.
• KRI Nanggala, the second of two Cakra-class (Type 209) diesel-electric submarines of the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL), went missing on 21 April in waters approximately 100km north of Bali.
• ACM Hadi Tjahjanto, Chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces, told media later that day that contact with the submarine was lost at 0430 local time, immediately after the boat received clearance to dive. Nanggala (pennant number 402) was participating in a simulated torpedo firing, ahead of an actual firing scheduled for later in the week.
• Government officials later reported that an oil slick had been found at the location at 0700 during an aerial search, but the hull had not been located at the time of writing. There were 53 personnel aboard the 1,395t submarine at the time of its disappearance.
• In a 21 April statement, the Indonesian Navy noted: ‘It is possible that during static diving, a blackout occurred, so control was lost and emergency procedures cannot be carried out and the ship falls to a depth of 600-700 metres.’
• The Type 209 has a diving depth of no more than 500m.
• Other TNI-AL vessels participating in the naval exercise were the frigates KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata and KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai, and the corvette KRI Diponegoro. These commenced a search for the missing submarine.
• Other ships dispatched to help the search effort were the corvettes KRI Bung Tomo and KRI Kapitan Pattimura, the survey ship KRI Rigel and the minehunter KRI Pulau Rengat.
• Indonesia promptly asked for help. The Singaporean submarine rescue ship MV Swift Rescue departed Changi Naval Base that afternoon for the 1,500+km journey. The Singaporean vessel carries a submersible based on James Fisher Defence’s DSAR 500 submarine rescue vehicle.
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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON
Climate change summit: This is the year to get serious, Boris Johnson tells world (Times)
• Boris Johnson will tell a summit of world leaders that 2021 must be the year that countries “get serious” about stopping climate change.
• The online summit has been convened by President Biden, who is expected to pledge to at least halve US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.
• Ahead of the event, which aims to increase ambition on climate action before the UN Cop26 conference in Glasgow in November, Johnson announced a “world-leading” target for the UK to cut emissions by 78 per cent on 1990 levels by 2035.
• This new target builds on a plan to cut emissions by 68 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030, the most ambitious among leading economies.
• The prime minister is expected to tell the meeting: “The UK has shown that it’s possible to slash emissions while growing the economy, which makes the question of reaching net zero not so much technical as political.
• “If we actually want to stop climate change, then this must be the year in which we get serious about doing so. Because the 2020s will be remembered either as the decade in which world leaders united to turn the tide, or as a failure.”
• He will urge leaders to come to Glasgow in November — and Kunming in China in October for a summit on tackling declines in nature — armed with ambitious targets and the plans required to reach them.
• He will add: “Let the history books show that it was this generation of leaders that possessed the will to preserve our planet for generations to come.”
• The two-day talks will also hear from leaders of big economies including China, Japan, Russia, Canada, India and Australia, who will be watched closely to see what ambition they will bring to the table.
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?
Covid passports proving vaccine status will be available for summer holidays (Telegraph)
• Covid passports will be made available to prove people have been vaccinated as early as next month, in time for summer holidays, the travel industry has been told.
• The Department for Transport wants an official certification scheme that gives British travellers a document they can show at borders overseas in place by May 17.
• In a separate development, a European medical agency recommended that fully vaccinated travellers should be able to sidestep tests and quarantine.
• It potentially smooths the path for holidays to more than 20 countries that have indicated they could ask travellers for proof of vaccination, such as Israel, Croatia, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus.
• Greece has moved to reopen its tourism industry by dropping quarantine rules for travellers from more than 30 nations if they have been vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19.
• The Covid vaccine certificate could come in either digital or physical form, with government officials exploring the best way to make it work in the tight time frame.
• Critically, the proof of having received a Covid jab would be certified by UK Government, meaning it would be accepted by countries demanding evidence before entry.
• The advanced state of the plans emerged after The Telegraph learnt of details of a telephone call between government officials and industry figures.
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