The signing of the Armed Forces (Gibraltar) Act marks an important milestone for both the UK and Gibraltar, say the British government.
The government say that the signing will ensure the relationship between Service Police on The Rock and the Royal Gibraltar Police will ‘go from strength to strength’.
Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said:
“Gibraltar is of vital importance to the UK Armed Forces and our allies. Whilst our relationship with the EU is changing, our commitment to European prosperity and security remains steadfast and our duty to support Gibraltar, its people and its economy is resolute.”
The MoD said in a news release:
“Mark Lancaster also met Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, they discussed the strategic importance of Gibraltar to UK defence. Its value is best demonstrated by the support delivered to HMS Ocean as she docked to load humanitarian aid and disaster relief before sailing to the Caribbean Islands to assist those devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017 as well as welcoming future flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, this year whilst on sea trials.”
The value of the territory was explored by one of our writers in ‘We Will Rock You – The Resilience and Importance of Gibraltar‘, this article discusses why Britain, despite the complication of politics and the time, takes the cost and effort it takes to deploy and station military assets and personnel despite the damage to relations with Spain and other nations whom side with the Spanish over the issue of its sovereignty? One answer is Gibraltar’s strategic importance.
The obvious military advantage of Gibraltar is that its geographic position enables pooling of resources for quick deployment throughout the Mediterranean which can be achieved by either air or sea with its dedicated naval port and air base. But another, and often overlooked, reason which simply cannot be ignored is the ability to gather intelligence which the Rock of Gibraltar brings.
Standing over 30 meters taller than the highest point of the Empire State Building the Rock historically enabled a visual long range vantage point into Spain, the Mediterranean Sea and Morocco that could be used to spot enemy movements which Britain could take the necessary pre-emptive measures against. This is still the case today, but rather than only a visual vantage; the rise of technology coupled with the height of the Rock enables an audible vantage where the military are able to both transmit and receive communications over great distances.
This is aided by the Rock itself being a natural structure made of limestone; meaning it is completely maintenance free, with exception to pathways and roads, and is soft enough to create a tunnelling system as was constructed during both the 18th century Siege and the Second World War, yet is strong enough to maintain safe footing and load-bearing’s.
The string of events occurring between the 18th century and leading through to the current day has demonstrated time upon time again that the sovereign territory of Gibraltar has both a military and economic strategic importance. However, these events, as important and well-documented as they are, seem outshone by Gibraltar’s cultural importance as a symbol of national resilience and strength. Gibraltar has remained staunch in its defiance to the numerous overt and covert attacks over the last 300 plus years which has nurtured a culture of dedication and loyalty amongst the locals. This was exemplified in the 2002 referendum where they were asked whether Britain and Spain should share sovereignty – resulting in 98% of Gibratarians saying it should remain British.