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Additional British troops to be sent to Iraq on training mission

File photo dated 09/12/06 of British Army soldiers Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

An extra deployment of British troops numbering in the "low hundreds" will be sent to Iraq next month to help train local military units battling Islamic State militants, the Defence Secretary has announced.

Michael Fallon said details of the contribution to an international mission were still being finalised but would probably include a small protection contingent of combat-ready British soldiers at four US-led "safe" centres.

RAF planes have been heavily involved for several months in air strikes and reconnaissance missions across Iraq which have forced IS fighters to switch tactics and lay low in towns and villages - requiring a ground offensive, Mr Fallon told the Telegraph.

The move represents a significant swelling of the 50-strong British force presently engaged in preparing Iraqi and Kurdish fighters for a new phase of the fight to retake swathes of territory seized by the jihadis.

A big element of the UK contribution will be passing on the experience gained during the 13-year war with the Taliban in Afghanistan in dealing with roadside bombs and other explosive devices, Mr Fallon suggested.

Ex-Army major stripped of Military Cross for bravery

A former Army major whose bravery saved lives in Afghanistan has been stripped of his Military Cross in what is believed to be the first time the Queen has withdrawn a gallantry medal from a serviceman.

Major Robert Armstrong received his honour in March 2009 for "consistent bravery and inspirational leadership".

But he was arrested later that year as part of a probe into allegations of false battle write ups and will now have his award formally cancelled and annulled.

Maj Armstrong, not seen above, was among soldiers serving in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan in 2008. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Archive

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The MoD can confirm that an investigation has concluded into the circumstances surrounding the award of a gallantry medal relating to an incident in Afghanistan."

Maj Armstrong was attached to the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan in 2008.

He was reportedly dismissed from the Army in 2012 for storing secret documents at home following a court martial in Colchester, Essex, and was also given a one-year suspended prison sentence.


Bodies of British servicemen repatriated

The bodies of five service personnel who were killed when their helicopter crashed in Afghanistan will be returned back to the United Kingdom later today.

MoD Handout) Captain Clarke, Warrant Officer Class 2 Faulkner, Corporal Walters and Lance Corporal Thomas. Credit: Ministry of Defence Credit: MoD/Crown Copyright

Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters, all of the Army Air Corps (AAC), were serving as the Lynx aircraft's three-man team when they died.

They lost their lives together with Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan of the Royal Air Force and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas of the Intelligence Corps, who were believed to have been passengers on the flight.

Their helicopter went down in Kandahar province, 30 miles from the border with Pakistan, on the morning of April 26.

Women in combat should be 'seriously considered'

The Army should "seriously consider" lifting its ban on women serving in combat roles in line with other countries, the chief of the general staff has said.

Women are currently are allowed to serve on the front line with the artillery and as medics, engineers, intelligence officers and fighters pilots but not in close combat roles.

A paramedic attached to the British Army's Highlanders takes aim. Credit: REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

General Sir Peter Wall told The Sunday Times the British Army is in a minority of other armies because of the rule and offering all roles to women would make it "look more normal to society".

An MoD spokesman said: "A 2010 review into women serving in combat roles concluded there should be no change to the existing policy and another review will take place before 2018."


MoD hits back at top general's comments on Army cuts

The Ministry of Defence has hit back after one of Britain's most senior generals warned Government cuts will damage the Army in the long term.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said:

The UK maintains some of the very finest and best equipped armed forces, underpinned by the world's fourth largest defence budget.

With a restructured, more flexible and agile Army and with £160 billion planned on new equipment over the next decade we will ensure our armed forces retain their formidable range.

Hammond dismisses Army cuts criticism as 'nonsense'

The Defence Secretary has dismissed much of the criticism levelled against the Government on Army cuts as "nonsense".

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Philip Hammond said: "We still have the fourth largest defence budget in the world.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on The Andrew Marr Show. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

"I was in the Pentagon just this week past, I heard my US counterpart talk about Britain as a credible, capable and reliable ally and that's what we intend to remain.

"Of course we've had to make savings, of course we've had to make some very tough decisions, ... but we're looking to the future not the past."

Mr Hammond's comments followed General Sir Richard Shirreff's comments that the restructuring of the Army is "one hell of a risk" that will weaken the armed forces around the world.

Top general warns Army cuts are 'one hell of a risk'

Restructuring the Army is "one hell of a risk" that will weaken the armed forces, one of Britain's most senior generals has warned.

The Government is cutting the regular Army from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020, while the newly-renamed Army Reserve - formerly the Territorial Army - is being expanded from 19,000 to 30,000.

General Officer Commanding, Major General Richard Shirreff pictured during a Remembrance Day Service in 2006. Credit: PA

In an interview with the Sunday Times (£), General Sir Richard Shirreff said: "The sort of defence cuts we have seen... have really hollowed out the British armed forces and I think that people need to sit up and recognise that."

“I wouldn’t want to let anybody think that I think that Army 2020 is good news, it’s not.”

Fijian ex-soldier wins battle to stay in Britain

A former Fijian soldier who fought for the British Army has won his battle to stay in the UK after being threatened with deportation.

Filimone Lacanivalu - who served with the Army for nine years - missed the deadline for an residency request form and was taken to a detention centre for five weeks.

The soldier issued a personal appeal to Prime Minister David Cameron and saw his case taken up by MPs and the press.

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