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The Sandbag Times Issue No:58

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The Veterans Magazine


NEWS AUGUST EDITION British Troops to Join Force Countering Mali Militants Story: The Guardian - Jason Burke Africa correspondent Image: Benoit Tessier/Reuters British troops will be deployed in Mali next year to join in the world’s deadliest peacekeeping operation, the Ministry of Defence has announced. The 250-strong force will provide a longrange reconnaissance capability for the United Nations deployment in the troubled African country which has struggled to decisively counter Islamic militants, armed separatists and traffickers. The deployment is likely to place British troops in combat situations, facing risks of ambushes and roadside bombs in remote and hostile environments. The UN is operating alongside a Frenchled force that has been fighting Islamic militants in Mali for six years. The mission is known as one of the most dangerous undertaken by the organisation anywhere in the world. More than 170 people deployed by the UN have been killed there between 2013 and February. Penny Mordaunt, the defence minister, said it was right that “in one of the world’s poorest and most fragile regions we support some of world’s most vulnerable people … UK service personnel will work with our partners in the region to help promote peace by combating the threat of violent extremism and protecting human rights in Mali”. Mali, which occupies a key location in the centre of the restive Sahel, was plunged into chaos in 2012 when Tuareg separatists and Islamic extremists joined forces to take control of much of the north of the country. French forces intervened the following year to halt their advance and 4,000 French troops remain there. The UN security council later deployed peacekeepers, which have been targets of a fierce insurgent campaign. A 2015 peace deal signed by Mali’s government and separatist groups failed to end the violence and instability has since spread across the region. More than 200,000 people have been displaced in Mali since the start of 2019 and about 600 killed in a series of militia attacks. Islamic extremists have staged assaults on high-profile targets in the capital, Bamako, and in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. There is also violence in neighbouring Niger, where four US servicemen were killed in an ambush by Islamic militants in 2017. Read the Full Story here... | 06

NEWS Johnny Mercer MP appointed Minister of Veterans Story: Plymouth Live Plymouth Moor View MP Johnny Mercer has been appointed Minister for Veterans of the Royal Navy, Army and RAF - and will head-up a new Government department dedicated to the issues they face. The new Office of Veterans’ Affairs will sit inside the Cabinet Office and will be jointly run by Mr Mercer - who is now a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in both Image: Greg Martin the MOD and the Cabinet Office - and the Cabinet-attending paymaster general Oliver Dowden. Mr Mercer, a former captain in the British Army, will be asked to focus on ending the legal pursuit of former service personnel, amid anger in the Conservative party over the treatment of those who served during Northern Ireland’s Troubles. MOD Announces Pay Rise For The Armed Forces Story: The Defence Secretary has announced an above-inflation, 2.9% pay rise for the Armed Forces. It will be implemented in September’s salaries and backdated to 1 April 2019. The lowest-paid soldiers, sailors and airmen and women will receive a 6% increase to bring them in line with the living wage. This increase means that after basic training, new and junior personnel will receive an annual salary of £20,000 a year. For the ‘average’ salary of personnel (at Corporal level), the pay rise represents an annual increase of £995. Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “No soldier, sailor, airman or woman should be asked to serve our country and not be properly rewarded, which is why I’m pleased we have accepted the pay review body’s recommendation for an above-inflation rise this year. More here... The starting salary for an officer will see an annual increase of £769. Army rejects call for mental health checks Story: BBC News: By Andrew Hosken The British Army has rejected calls for mandatory mental health screening for serving soldiers, the BBC has learned. Regular screening was recommended by a coroner following an inquest into the deaths of two infantrymen found hanged in the same Northern Ireland barracks. But in a leaked letter, Gen Sir Nick Carter, head of the armed forces, said screening was “potentially harmful”. Human rights charity Liberty, which represents the mothers of the soldiers, said it was concerned by the decision. An inquest this year found that Corporal James Ross, 30, died an accidental death in December 2012, while the coroner recorded a verdict of suicide on the death of Rifleman Darren Mitchell, 20 - less than three months later - in February 2013. Both men were serving with the 2nd Battalion The Rifles and had previously been in active service in Afghanistan. Read more here... 07 |

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The Veteran - May Issue
The Sandbag Times Remembrance Special

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