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Army medics arrive to help fight Ebola in Sierra Leone

British army medics have arrived in Sierra Leone to provide medical support in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in west Africa.

Around 120 troops have been engaging in exercises to simulate the conditions they will face in Sierra Leone.

Around 750 British troops are expected to be deployed to Sierra Leone over the coming months as part of the country's response to the outbreak of the potentially deadly virus.


Army cuts decision 'taken without appropriate testing'

A decision to cut regular armed forces, while doubling reservists, was "taken without appropriate testing of feasibility" the National Audit Office have said.

Regular forces numbers will drop from 102,000 to 82,000. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The National Audit Office issued a statement saying that "military judgment played an important role in decisions."

They added: "Committing to moving towards an Army structure with fewer regular soldiers and an increased number of reserves within the planned timescale, should have been subject to more rigorous testing of feasibility."

Regular forces numbers will drop from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2018, with the report saying that without a "significant change in performance", the target may not be hit until 2025.

£1.1bn armed forces savings won't affect 'equipment'

An annual shortfall in army savings will need to be found from cuts across the armed forces "other than equipment," the National Audit Office said today.

ITV News' Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship tweeted:

Submariner: 'If you can do your job everyone's happy'

The first three female submariners to serve in the Royal Navy said they were looking forward to getting to work with their male colleagues and expect to be treated professionally.

Read: First women officers join Royal Navy submarine fleet

Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray completed vigorous training that enables them operate the submarines, which they explained are "more complicated than a spaceship". Lieutenant Alexandra Olsson said:

"I am sure it will be a big success. We all do our job, and as long as you can do your job on board, everyone is quite happy for you to be there".


First women officers join Royal Navy submarine fleet

lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray, Royal Navy. Credit: MoD/Crown Copyright

Three officers have made maritime history by becoming the first female submariners to serve in the Royal Navy.

Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray have completed months of specialised training to earn their "Dolphins" - the clasp worn by qualified submariners - becoming the first women in the 110-year history of the Navy's Submarine Service.

For years women were unable to serve on submarines because of possible health risks but, after an independent review found that only pregnant women should not serve, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond lifted the ban in December 2011.

Following the arrival of woman officers, female ratings (non-commissioned personnel) will start training later this year with a view to serving on Vanguard submarines in 2015. Female personnel will also be able to serve on Astute-class submarines from around 2016.

Malaysian minister speaks to Hammond about search

The Malaysian transport minister's communications team has posted an image of him talking on the phone - in his dressing gown - to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond about the Royal Navy submarine arriving to help search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight:

MoD defends shooting pigs for medical training

The Ministry of Defence has defended its involvement in a military training exercise that involves the shooting of live animals. Images published in the Daily Mirror appear to show live pigs strung up as targets during a medical training course at Nato's training facilities in Jaegerspris, Denmark.

The pictures, published in the Daily Mirror, appear to show live animals strung up as targets. Credit: Press Association

The pigs are shot by a marksman to replicate battlefield wounds so that military medical staff can train in emergency surgery. The MoD said it had not yet seen the pictures, but a spokeswoman said it was normal for military surgeons to carry out training on animals:

"Our military surgeons undertake vital training in Denmark where they learn specialist trauma treatment skills that save lives on the battlefield.

"All animals used in medical training are anaesthetised before they are treated and by participating in the Danish led exercises twice a year rather than conducting our own, we minimise the overall number of animals used."

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said the exercise was "impossible to justify medically, ethically and educationally."

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