Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Defence (11 June 2002)

At Q1467 Mr Mann told the Committee the MOD would "join the club" on secure communications network. Was Mr Mann referring to the MDP or to all of the Armed Forces? At Q1473 Mr Ingram promised a note on secure communications.

  The Committee has been briefed, including at its session on 22 May, on plans for the police and emergency services progressively to field communications equipment compatible with the TETRA technical standard. One key goal of this programme will be securing communications inter-operability between those deployed to the scene of an incident. For the same reason, we intend to replace our current ICP communications equipment (MOULD) deployed with 2(NC) Signals Brigade, which is in any case coming to the end of its life, with similar TETRA-compatible equipment. We also propose that 2 Signals Brigade should also take on the formal role of providing communications support to MoD units and personnel deployed to the scene of an incident.

  Separately, the Ministry of Defence Police is involved in the development of digital communications operability between police forces.

At Q1511 Mr Ingram promised a note on whether any military units other than air defence squadrons have been given any contingency tasking since 11 September.

  The staff branches responsible for MACA within MoD have undertaken considerable contingency planning in light of the events of 11 September 2001. This has included a review of the readiness, preparedness and suitability of specialist units that might be called upon to perform counter-terrorist tasks in the UK, and a review of contingency plans to identify revisions were required in light of the changed circumstances. This led to some fine-tuning including the provision of additional EOD equipment. The review found that MoD plans were generally robust in the face of the new challenges and did not require significant short term amendment.

  The review of these plans is a continuing process, however, linked amongst other things to the training and exercise programme. For example, enhancements to the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response have followed the full-scale exercise in February of this year. The Home Office led planning for this exercise, which began in late 2000. It forms part of a regular national exercise programme.

  A number of additional actions and tasks have also been undertaken to increase the ability of the Armed Forces to provide counter terrorist support to the Home Office and the emergency services. These include:

  ***  enhancements to the MACA Joint Command Structure, designed primarily to enhance the rapidity and effectiveness of the consequence management response, in support of the emergency services.

  ***  during the attacks on 11 September the notice to move of

  ***  was reduced to

  ***  This involved

  ***  The readiness of the unit's contingent to this task remained heightened for

  ***  for the period immediately following the 11 September attacks, the notice to move of the high readiness unit available

  ***  was reduced to

  ***  Additional support was also provided to the police and emergency services during the anthrax scare. This included:

  ***  Provision of NBC equipment to the police to help sustain their response to the surge of Anthrax incidents.

  These enhancements and reviews have themselves contributed to the medium and long term review of the MOD contribution to the UK counter-terrorist response which forms an important element of the SDR New Chapter.

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