Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jake Hartley, Corporal, Royal Army






I.  Name:  Jake Hartley
II.  Rank:  Corporal
III.  Country Served:  United Kingdom
IV.  Service:  Royal Army
V.  Conflict:  War in Afghanistan (Global War on Terrorism)
VI.  Related News Items:

From The Telegraph:


Commanding officer pays tribute to fallen comrades in Afghanistan

The commanding officer of the unit hit hardest by the Afghanistan blast paid a moving tribute to them today, saying: "Six of our brothers have fallen. It has been a sad day."

Lt Colonel Zac Stenning, of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, read a eulogy to the men outside Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster, Wiltshire.
They were named today as Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33, Pte Christopher Kershaw, 19, and Pte Daniel Wade, 20, Cpl Jake Hartley, 20, Pte Anthony Frampton, 20, and Pte Daniel Wilford, 21.
Pte Frampton was 18 when he joined the Army in 2009, training at Catterick before enlisting in 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment. Pt Wilford joined the regiment in 2007 aged 16 while Pte Hartley was 17 when he signed on in 2008.
Lt Col Stenning said: "As their commanding officer of a tight knit family regiment, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my incredibly brave men, and to offer my deepest condolences to their families, and to their many friends."




From Stars and Stripes:


Six British troops presumed dead in massive Afghan blast

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Six British troops were missing and presumed dead after a massive blast destroyed their tank-like armored vehicle in Helmand province, British and coalition military officials said Wednesday. It would be the largest loss of British military lives in a single incident in Afghanistan in nearly three years.
Some 24 hours after the explosion, which took place Tuesday, the 25-ton Warrior vehicle, which has tracks like a tank, still had not been recovered, British officials said. For that reason, the fatalities were not yet listed as confirmed, but military officials said the soldiers' families had been notified of the presumed deaths.
A Helmand provincial spokesman, Daud Ahmadi, said the explosion, believed due to a roadside bomb, had taken place in Helmand's Gereshk district, not far from the country's main ring-road highway. The NATO force also said the blast was from an improvised explosive device, or IED, and confirmed the presumed deaths of six service members without specifying their nationality.
Destroying or disabling such a heavy vehicle and killing all those inside would require an extremely powerful bomb, and the incident pointed to a continuing Taliban presence in Helmand province despite military gains touted by NATO's International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF. Helmand, together with neighboring Kandahar province, is considered the Taliban movement's home ground, but the insurgents were driven over the past two years from many longtime strongholds.
The deaths came one day after a trip to Helmand by the American commander of the NATO force, Gen. John Allen. During his visit, he told U.S. Marines in Marjah, the scene of a major offensive in February 2010, that their efforts were "helping to make the area a safer place for Afghans to live and work," according to a military press release.
Several parts of Helmand, including its capital, Lashkar Gah, are now under the security control of the Afghan police and army -- part of a nationwide push for Afghan forces to take over most combat duties by the end of next year. That coincides with a drawdown of U.S. troops that began in the latter part of last year and is to accelerate this year.
By the end of 2012, the U.S. contingent is to be reduced to about 68,000 troops, down from a high of more than 100,000. Americans make up the bulk of the NATO force.


And this, from The Guardian:


British soldiers killed in Afghanistan named by MoD

Ministry of Defence reveals five of the men killed in a huge explosion in Afghanistan were aged 21 or under
Six soldiers who were killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan
The six soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Top row, from left: Sergeant Nigel Coupe, Corporal Jake Hartley and Private Anthony Frampton. Bottom row: Private Christopher Kershaw, Private Daniel Wade and Private Daniel Wilford Photograph: MoD/PA
The commanding officer of the six men killed when their armoured vehicle was hit by a massive explosion in Afghanistan has paid tribute to the soldiers and insisted the regiment remained committed to its mission.
Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning said the six men, five of whom were aged between 19 and 21, were "incredibly brave" and would expect their comrades to continue to do their duty.
Speaking outside Battlesbury barracks in Warminster, Wiltshire, Stenning said: "Barely 48 hours ago, we heard the terrible news that six soldiers from The 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, were declared missing, believed killed, after their Warrior armoured vehicle was caught in an explosion in southern Afghanistan.
"As their commanding officer of a tight knit family regiment, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my incredibly brave men, and to offer my deepest condolences to their families, and to their many friends."
He said a few words about each of the men. Stenning described the youngest, Private Christopher Kershaw, 19, as a "true Yorkshire warrior...a star of the future." The oldest, Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, was "quite simply the best."
Stenning added: "Six of our brothers have fallen. It has been a sad day but as their brothers in arms we remain committed in our duty to continue with our mission. They would want nothing less. Our loss is very great today but this of course is nothing compared with the deep loss felt by their families and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are firmly with them today."
Two of the six came from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire and the town's MP, Barry Sheerman, called for a fresh Commons debate on operations in Afghanistan.
He said he did not believe Britain should "cut and run" from the mission but said this week's events should bring the war back on to parliament's agenda.
The deaths take the toll of British personnel killed in Afghanistan to 404 and represent the biggest loss of UK life in a single incident in Afghanistan since 2006, when an ageing RAF Nimrod crashed shortly after midair refuelling, with the loss of all 14 people aboard.
Passing the symbolic milestone of 400 deaths has refocused attention on the reason for the presence of British troops in Afghanistan, the timetable for their removal and the capability of the Afghan army and police force to keep the country secure once coalition troops have left.
Defence officials said the deaths would have no effect on strategy or tactics deployed by British troops. If anything, it would encourage militarycommanders to stay the course, they said. However, officials indicated ministers were well aware of war-weariness among the public.
An investigation is under way to find out what caused the explosion that wrecked the Warrior vehicle as it patrolled the border of Helmand and Kandahar in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday. The force of the blast led to early speculation that the vehicle was hit by an old mine, possibly from the Soviet era, but an initial examination of the Warrior suggested it was probably a large Taliban roadside bomb.
The extraction of the bodies was hampered by bad weather, defence officials said.
David Cameron described the loss of the men as a "desperately sad day for our country". He said it was a "reminder of the huge price that we are paying for the work we are doing in Afghanistan and the sacrifice that our troops have made and continue to make".
But the prime minister pointed out that the men were carrying out important work to prevent Afghanistan becoming a haven for al-Qaida to plan attacks on the UK or its allies.
Downing Street said last month that British troops would end their lead combat role in Afghanistan by the end of next year. This will lead to Afghan security forces being in sole charge of combat operations against insurgents by the end of 2014, when most of Britain's 9,500-strong contingent will have returned home. The timeframe may well be shortened at the Nato summit in Chicago in May.
However, Nato commanders in Afghanistan have told Downing Street and the White House that they want to keep levels of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) as high as possible between now and the end of the "fighting season" next year – September 2013.
They insist this is the best way of ensuring the country does not descend into chaos before the final withdrawal of combat troops. If Cameron agrees to Nato's proposal, about 9,000 UK troops will remain in Helmand until autumn next year.
They would be under more pressure too. Sixteen thousand US Marines are withdrawing from Helmand within months, and although Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, has said Britain will not "backfill", Afghan forces are unlikely to be able to shoulder the burden of security alone.
Privately, commanders also warn that the Isaf coalition could disintegrate if either country signals an early exit. "That is the biggest danger for Afghanistan," said one. "A hasty and chaotic exit must be avoided." But political pressure is mounting on both sides of the Atlantic to accelerate the drawdown.
The loss of the British soldiers this week is bound to raise questions about their resources. Cameron accepted there was a need to make sure personnel had all the equipment they needed to keep them "as safe as possible". But the MoD was quick to quash suggestions that the vulnerability of the Warrior could be blamed for the deaths.
The Warrior vehicle has been upgraded throughout its service in Iraq and Afghanistan to try to combat the threat from roadside bombs and mines. A £1bn upgrade was announced at the end of last year to extend its life to 2040 and beyond but the MoD stressed this was not in response to "any identified deficiencies" in its armour.
A spokesman said: "Warrior provides some of the highest levels of protection available but sadly no armoured vehicle can provide absolute protection from the very largest explosions."
Writing in the Times the chief of the defence staff, General Sir David Richards, said the progress made since entering the country in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was "truly impressive" and vowed to continue the strategy and tactics employed by British troops.
"As progress continues the work of our servicemen and women will draw down but our efforts will endure," he said. "Sadly as we hold that course it is likely that others will lose loved ones."
Richards added that he and his troops did not underestimate the dangers faced in Afghanistan, but understood "the importance of the mission with which we are charged". "We will hold our nerve," he added.
The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, claimed morale in Afghanistan remained "extremely high" because soldiers knew they had an important job to do. He said: "The people on the ground are acutely conscious of the risks that they are running but they are also incredibly proud of the job that they are doing and rightly so, and hugely satisfied by the level of public support that they have back home."
The former foreign secretary David Miliband warned that there was no "political strategy" in Afghanistan to secure the peace after British military operations came to an end.
"The absolute key is that at the moment we have extraordinary bravery, as well as sacrifice, intelligence and skill, from British service people and that is tactically making advances, but what is missing is a clear strategy," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
"That is absolutely key to the last two years of British combat operations. By strategy I mean a plan to make sure there is a sustainable peace in Afghanistan after our time there in military operations."
He added: "We know that, in the end, there needs to be a political solution in Afghanistan – all the tribes in, all the neighbours onside and al-Qaida kept out. It's the absence of that political strategy that is brought into stark relief by the terrible news yesterday."


And this, also from The Guardian:



Death toll of British soldiers in Afghanistan passes 400

British mission in Afghanistan will continue despite the loss of six soldiers who were caught in a huge explosion
A soldier from the 2nd Battalion Mercian regiment
The death toll of British soldiers in Afghanistan has passed 400 after the loss of six soldiers who were caught in a huge explosion. Photograph: Reuters
The British mission in Afghanistan will continue despite the loss of six soldiers who were caught in a huge explosion that destroyed their armoured vehicle, defence officials have said.
If, as expected, the men are confirmed to have been killed in the blast, it will take the death toll of British personnel killed in Afghanistan to 404. It will also represent the biggest single loss of UK life in a single incident in Afghanistan since 2006, when an ageing RAF Nimrod crashed in the country shortly after mid-air refuelling, with the loss of all 14 people aboard.
Passing the symbolic milestone of 400 deaths would refocus attention on the reason for the presence of British troops in Afghanistan, the timetable for their removal and the capability of the Afghan army and police force to keep the country secure once coalition troops have left.
Defence officials said the deaths would have no effect on strategy or tactics deployed by British troops. If anything, it would encourage militarycommanders to stay the course, they said. However, officials indicated ministers were well aware of war weariness among the public.
An investigation is under way to find out what caused the explosion that wrecked the Warrior vehicle as it patrolled the border of Helmand and Kandahar in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday. The force of the blast led to early speculation that the vehicle was hit by an old mine, possibly from the Soviet era, but an initial examination of the Warrior suggested it was probably a large Taliban roadside bomb.
The bodies of the soldiers were still being extracted from the wreckage last night in an operation hampered by bad weather, defence officials said. The soldiers are expected to be named on Thursday.
David Cameron described the loss of the men – who were described by the Ministry of Defence as missing, believed killed – as a "desperately sad day for our country". He said it was a "reminder of the huge price that we are paying for the work we are doing in Afghanistan and the sacrifice that our troops have made and continue to make".
But the prime minister pointed out that the men were carrying out important work to prevent Afghanistan becoming a haven for al-Qaida to plan attacks on the UK or its allies.
Five of the soldiers presumed dead were from the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment and one from the 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.
At Battlesbury barracks in Warminster, Wiltshire, where the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment is based, the news was broken to families and friends of the missing men.
Service personnel past and present, army families and townsfolk arrived at the gates to lay flowers and express their sadness.
Stacey McLaughlin, 21, whose husband, John, is to fly to Afghanistan in April laid flowers with their daughter, three-year-old Olivia-Mai. Speaking through tears, she said: "They are true heroes. This loss will be felt badly by all the soldiers out there and the families back home. I just hope John comes back home safely when he goes out there."
Hayley Dymek, 22, whose husband, Private Darren Dymek, 24, is in Afghanistan with the Yorkshire regiment, said: "I panicked this morning when I first heard that six soldiers had been killed. But then I found out that the families had been informed, so I knew Darren was safe. This really brings home the dangers of what they are doing out there."
Downing Street said last month that British troops would end their lead combat role in Afghanistan by the end of next year. This will lead to Afghan security forces being in sole charge of combat operations against insurgents by the end of 2014, when most of Britain's 9,500-strong contingent will have returned home. The timeframe may well be shortened at the Nato summit in Chicago in May.
However, Nato commanders in Afghanistan have told Downing Street and the White House that they want to keep levels of International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) as high as possible between now and the end of the "fighting season" next year – September 2013.
They insist this is the best way of ensuring the country does not descend into chaos before the final withdrawal of combat troops. If Cameron agreed to Nato's proposal, about 9,000 UK troops would remain in Helmand until autumn next year.
They would be under more pressure too. Sixteen thousand US Marines are withdrawing from Helmand within months, and although Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, has said Britain would not "backfill", Afghan forces are unlikely to be able to shoulder the burden of security alone.
Privately, commanders also warn the Isaf coalition could disintegrate if either country signals an early exit. "That is the biggest danger for Afghanista," said one. "A hasty and chaotic exit must be avoided." But political pressure is mounting on both sides of the Atlantic to accelerate the drawdown.
The loss of the British soldiers this week is bound to raise questions about their resources. Cameron accepted there was a need to make sure personnel had all the equipment they needed to keep them "as safe as possible".
But the MoD was quick to quash suggestions that the vulnerability of the Warrior could be blamed for the deaths. Warrior had been upgradedthroughout its service in Iraq and Afghanistan to try to combat the threat from roadside bombs and mines. A £1bn upgrade of the vehicle was announced at the end of last year to extend the life of the vehicle to 2040 and beyond but the MoD stressed this was not in response to "any identified deficiencies" in its armour.
A spokesman said: "Warrior provides some of the highest levels of protection available but sadly no armoured vehicle can provide absolute protection from the very largest explosions."
The chief of the defence staff, General Sir David Richards, said the men were doing "a dangerous but important job", adding: "Increasingly the Afghans themselves are taking the lead in providing security across Helmand. This transition is allowing Afghans to gain the confidence to reject the Taliban and live normal lives."
Some experts remain unconvinced. Gareth Price, senior research fellow on the Asia programme at Chatham House, suggested the explosion could have been designed to send a message to the Afghan people that the national army could not guarantee their safety.
Anthony Glees, director of the centre for security and intelligence studies at the University of Buckingham, said: "The fact that these people were killed by an IED (improvised explosive device) might suggest not just that this is a very dangerous place but that the Afghans aren't particularly good at delivering security."

And this, from Fallen Heroes  Afghanistan:


THURSDAY, MARCH 8, 2012


Friends and relatives lay wreaths for fallen Brits

Friends and family gathered to leave flowers and messages for the fallen British soldiers killed in action this week. Watch video:


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