Armed forces chief ‘pleased’ with Sudan evacuation effort
The head of the armed forces said he is “pleased” with how the evacuation from Sudan has gone, ahead of an extra flight out of the war-torn nation on Monday.
Some 2,122 people have been flown out on 23 flights from an airfield near Khartoum since fighting began but more than 1,000 UK nationals may remain.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said rescue efforts, which were previously focused on the Wadi Saeedna site near the Sudanese capital, would move to the east of the nation, with a flight to leave on Monday from Port Sudan.
Speaking at RAF Odiham on Sunday during a full-scale rehearsal for the King’s coronation, Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said the military was capable of both preparing for the royal event and undertaking duties abroad.
He said: “We’ve got the capacity to deal with lots of different things at different times. I was in Ukraine earlier this week and met my opposite number General (Valerii) Zaluzhnyi.
“I accompanied the National Security Adviser Tim Barrow and we had a meeting with President (Volodymyr) Zelensky.
“We have also been involved in the evacuation from Sudan. And I’m pleased with how that has gone.
“We can do this ceremonial parade and at the same time we fulfil all of our operational duties to keep our nation safe and to help it prosper.”
Asked whether he would rule out military intervention in Sudan, Sir Tony said: “The armed forces respond to whatever is required.
“But this is what we call a non-combatant evacuation operation and it’s firmly remained in that space.”
Following the Government’s pledge in March to increase defence spending by £5 billion over the next two years, Sir Tony described their commitment as “significant” and said he was “grateful for the additional funds”.
He said: “That’s additional money for defence at a time when there are economic pressures.
“It’s on the back of 24 billion extra that defence got a couple of years ago.
“You also had the Government saying that in time, it wants to grow the percentage of GDP that’s spent on defence to 2.5%.
“That’s really significant.
“I’m grateful for the additional funds that we’ve been given. And I’m really grateful for the clarity of the Government that its intention is to grow defence spending to 2.5%.”