Scottish soldiers join forces with Afghan National Police

2 Scots joined forces with the Afghan National Police to drive out insurgants

SCOTTISH soldiers joined forces with the Afghan National Police to claim back a huge part of the country from the Taleban.

In just a few hours they drove out insurgents, arrested key leaders of the terrorist group and seized a massive haul of drugs and weapons.

Operation ZMARAY SARAK 5 saw three security forces come together, including the 2 Scots the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

Three drugs runners were captured along with 250 kilogrammes of heroin in the first part of the process to clear the area around Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province.

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MoD cheap meals are “massively damaging to morale”

By Rory Reynolds

THE Ministry of Defence is spending a fraction of what their coalition counterparts spend on food for troops.

US troops receive £11-worth of food per day of high quality grub – including veal and baked trout – while Scots squaddies have just £3.45 spent on them.

And the Australian, German and Canadian governments all spend more than food for their armed forces than the UK does.

Mike Lean, professor of nutrition at Glasgow University, said he was “suspicious” of how the MoD manage to keep troops healthy on so little, while critics have labelled the disparity “massively damaging to morale”.

Currently all US troops serving in desert conditions are given a full cooked breakfast including bacon, link sausage, ham, eggs, hash browns, fresh fruit, French toast, bread and pastries. Continue reading

Missing Holyrood Items Include Mass Storage Devices

By Andrea McCallum

THE SCOTTISH Government has had more than 1,000 security passes, 27 laptop computers, 20 BlackBerry devices – and a banana – lost or stolen over the last five years.

Figures revealed that memory sticks, hard drives and PC base units have also gone astray since 2005 – as well as 12 apples and a business suit.

And now the loss of mass data storage devices has raised fears over the possible threat to personal privacy and organisational security.

Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken said: “Things have indeed come to a pretty pass when even the corridors of power are not immune to the acts of criminals.

“At the same time, it goes without saying that some of our essentially high paid civil servants could take more care of their property – especially taxpayers’ property.”

Other items reported lost or stolen include a guillotine, a jar of coffee, a kettle and a bottle of champagne.

Independent MSP Margo McDonald said: “Even a small number of lost security passes falling into the wrong hands could allow a more systematic theft to be carried out.”

She added that the losses “warrant some kind of investigation into the use of equipment like this”.

Public sector organisations have faced repeated criticism over losses of data and the potential risk to personal security.

NHS Grampian was censured by the Information Commissioner’s Office in September last year after three separate incidents.

Personal data of 200 patients and staff was found in a confidential waste bag, a laptop holding personal details of 1500 patients was stolen and an email containing sensitive personal information was distributed.

Memory sticks were banned by NHS Lothian after they lost a device storing 127 patients in June 2008.

And a Royal Navy officer from the Ministry of Defence was robbed of a laptop which contained the personal details of 60,000 Scots in January 2008.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “The loss of potentially sensitive data relating to people or to policy decisions is a serious concern.

“Everyone is aware of high-profile data losses of this nature and the Scottish Government needs to be vigilant.”

LibDem justice spokesman Robert Brown said the level of lost or stolen items seemed “very high”.

He added: “Of course there are people in and about in terms of visitors and staff and contractors so to that degree I can understand how it can happen.

“But it does sound as though there needs to be tighter regulation on what people do with their laptop after hours.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The government takes the loss or theft of items from its buildings very seriously and has robust guidelines to help ensure items are kept secure.

“With regard to security passes, the percentage lost or stolen has halved since 2005.

“We continue to work to achieve the highest levels of security and work is under way to improve the security incident management process.”

Scots troops ready for challenge in Helmand

By Rory Reynolds

STANDING proud and tall in his regulation issue desert combats, Shaun Garrett checks the contents of his army rucksack one final time, handling the gas mask, rations, and weaponry that could very well help keep him and his colleagues alive.

It won’t be lost on some, however, that while this strapping lad from the tiny port town of Stranraer may be old enough to fight and should fate decide, die for his country, at just 17-years-old he isn’t yet old enough to buy a farewell round.

He doesn’t turn 18 until Saturday, his birthday.

By then he’ll be in Afghanistan, the babe of his unit, after the young private signed up 10 months ago, travelling from his Wigtownshire home to Edinburgh to join the Royal Scots Borderers, known as 1SCOTS.

Despite being the youngest member of the battalion, he insists he is ready for Afghanistan, as he and his colleagues stowed their gear ready to fly out to Helmand today. Continue reading

UFO sightings rocket after MoD shutdown alien hotline

By Rory Reynolds

SCOTLAND saw a massive increase in UFO sightings in the year the Ministry of Defence axed their supernatural investigations department.

New figures released under Freedom of Information Act have shown that reported sightings increased three-fold in the year that the MoD shut down its UFO hotline.

Last year 28 were reported to the MoD while just 10 were received in 2008 and nine the year before.

The calls varied from incidents with obvious explanations – an airborne object near Edinburgh Airport, travelling “at the speed of an airliner” – to more mysterious ones.

Among the calls that defence staff received last year include a man reporting a “bright orange bulb” in the sky in East Kilbride, that “came towards him like a tornado, then disappeared”. Continue reading

MOD should slash top brass officers to fund frontline troops

By SHAUN MILNE

A former Government minister is calling on the MoD to axe its senior military commanders by at least half to free up millions of pounds for front-line troops and their families.

Written answers to a series of Parliamentary Questions in the House of Lords reveal that a salary pot of £6.762 million is shared between 47 military chiefs.

A further £2.656 million has been spent on official residences that go with the posts for 19 senior top brass.

As well as the salaries exceeding £100k each, further associated expenses for ‘entertaining’ is costing the taxpayer around £77,000 a year.

Now there are calls for Lieutenant Colonels, Admirals and Generals to fall on their swords to free up cash for frontline staff. Continue reading

FLYGLOBESPAN: Bust airline ‘owed’ £30 million by credit card firm

Bruce Cartwright

By Cara Sulieman

SCOTS travel giants Globespan went bust despite being owed around £30 million from a credit card processing company, it was revealed last night.

Administrators said they believed a firm called E-Clear owed the firm around £30 million – but about half of it would now be claimed back by stranded customers.

Bruce Cartwright, partner at administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that people who had booked a flight with their credit card would be able to claim the money back.

But for others, including the hundreds of staff, there seemed little hope of anything good emerging from the financial disaster.

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MOD make £65,000 compensation payment

By Andrea McCallum

THE MOD has paid out £65,000 in compensation to an ex-employee who was exposed to asbestos whilst working for the organisation.

Former Rosyth dockyard worker Alan Cox removed the dangerous building material from pipes and boilers during a two-year spell modernizing HMS Caesar.

The 85-year-old, who now lives in Bath, was diagnosed with Asbestosis in 2007, 50 years after being transferred to Rosyth.

In May this year, it was reported that the widow of a MOD shipyard worker received £140,000 in compensation after her husband died of an asbestos related lung cancer.

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Famous UFO story of Edinburgh pair to be made into movie

By Oliver Farrimond

THE story about two Scots friends who claimed they were abducted by aliens is finally to be made into a movie.

Garry Wood and Colin Wright, now 46 and 42, claimed to have had a close encounter in 1992 when they were beamed aboard a UFO while driving near a reservoir near Balerno on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The pair have always stuck by their claims and even passed a lie detector test on TV.

Now DBR Entertainment, based in London and Los Angeles, is financing the production of the film which comes after almost two decades of controversy over the X-Files-style encounter.

News of the film comes just as NASA plans to crash a satellite into the surface of the Moon to see if it is capable of sustaining life. Continue reading

Former Army chief Sir Richard Dannatt accused of being Tory stooge as Labour Peer goes on the attack

By Shaun Milne

THE FORMER head of the British Army has been branded a “Tory stooge” after it emerged he stands to become a junior minister should David Cameron’s party be swept to victory at the next General Election.

Labour reacted furiously to news that General Sir Richard Dannatt may be handed a Peerage to allow him to enter a Conservative administration as adviser on defence if they can seize Downing Street.

UNDER FIRE: General Sir Richard Dannatt

UNDER FIRE: General Sir Richard Dannatt

Mr Cameron, who is expected to unveil the appointment in Manchester tomorrow (thur), fuelled the speculation when he said: “He is a man of great talent and ability.

“He has been a great public servant and I think he has more to do.”

Such a move would be lauded by the Tory Party faithful – but fiercely rounded upon by angry Labour figures.

General Dannatt has recently pounded the current Government with claims soldiers on the front line are being forced to take on the Taliban in Afghanistan with “at least part of one arm” tied behind their backs.

Stretched

He said Prime Minister Gordon Brown has left troops exposed by refusing to allow 2000 extra soldiers into theatre on grounds of cost.

It follows a previous volley from the General in January where he said a lack of equipment had “seriously stretched our soldiers”. Continue reading