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.

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Daniele Mandelli

Spain sabre rattling threatening to veto Brexit agreement over Gibraltar.

Go on. I double dare you.

andy reeves

just o miff off the spanish, i’d name the next t26 gibraltar, and think about basing it or a t23 there send them a message by putting an R.A.F squadron based there, and fortify the rock, as a deterrence

andy reeves

and send a full squadron of drilled archers with the 20mm canon they were designed to carry. and stop pussyfooting with their incursions

Daniele Mandelli

I recall we had some Hawker Hunters based there in the 80s. Agressors for RN or TWU or something.


They were FRADU Hunters, based at Yeovilton but regularly deployed to gib Very regularly during the 80s as did it’s Canberra’s. The Canberra’s had a secondary role of transporting North African metalworks and other tat back after the deployment.

Daniele Mandelli

Ahh, of course. FRADU.

Cheers Jonathan.

North African metalworks??

David E Flandry

I just read that the UK government agreed to “give Spain a say” in future developments in Gibraltar. Whatever that means.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Jolly good of them, perhaps they could reaffirm the importance of defence to the UK

Daniele Mandelli

Seems unthinkable that a Infantry Battalion was once stationed full time there.


There is still an infantry battalion stationed there. The Royal Gibraltar Regiment. While granted its not a ‘British’ regiment (which is what I would guess you were hinting at) its still better than a couple of armed police.

Daniele Mandelli

Cheers Chris. I meant a line Infantry Battalion. RGR is hardly an Infantry Battalion, it’s B Company has the regulars, a Company of reservists, an HQ Coy, and Saluting battery of Light Guns.

Interestingly it’s now on the strength of the army proper I believe and affiliated with the RAR. Some of its men went to Hellmand too.


The Gib Regt have recently completed Security duties at UKNSF Bahrain.

David Steeper

Did not know that thank you. They’re coming on in leaps and bounds since we withdrew the resident battalion.

Daniele Mandelli

Interesting. Cheers.

The riddler

They still go to ITC catterick and do the CIC like everyone else infantry. They’re sufficiently trained

Paul Bestwick

Why are the British overseas territories not made an integral part of the United Kingdom and thus allowed to elect MP’s etc? As I understand it the French have their territories governed in this way.


Because they are independent countries with their own laws and government. The connection to the UK is actually pretty weak, beyond defence.


Becoming a real part of the UK would pretty much rune most of the territories, since they are all tax havens and being part of the UK would mean they would have to pay income tax etc like the us main landers.

andy reeves

while we bang on about gib, i heard the economy has suffered due the reduced visits from R.N ships, much as happened when the u.k pulled out of malta. with the rock’s strategic value and its importance, not just for the u.k, but sea use all around the globe, it should be fortified, brought up to date, and send a clear signal to manuel and his amigo’s to keep out the business of a sovereign nations(us) affairs.

David E Flandry

I read that Gibraltar is represented in Parliament by an MP from a southeastern Home County.

Steve Taylor

“Standing over 30 meters taller than the highest point of the Empire State Building.”

Sorry. How many double deckers is that?

Daniele Mandelli

? obviously they don’t think it will excite the masses like a QEC. Just as important though in my view.


More importantly: How many tins of baked beans can be held in the tunnel network, and are the facilities capable of providing naval support to the world-renowned HMS Gosport Ferry?

Cam Hunter

There’s 34 miles of tunnels on gibraltar! Twice the size as the road network! So a fair few! Lol


Indeed, I have always found the tunnel network staggering!

andy reeves

the gosport ferry should be painted grey, a farmer with his shotgun told to stand at the pointy end then call it a type 31e

Bob Thingamy

Maybe Spain should hand back it’s territories in Morocco before whingeing about Gibraltar.

David Steeper

Guys enough with the bloody Gosport ferry ! lol


Actually, agreed.

The Torpoint ferry is much more practical- and is missing out on some much needed love.


Late again this morning late Sunday Friday and last Tuesday,not to worry the management are claiming 99.5% of ferry crossings are on time i must be the unluckiest bloke in the west country.

David Flandry

Needed at Gibraltar: 4 fighter-bombers, an OPV with serious guns, an composite company with some 105 mm guns, and air and sea search radar. Also sonar to keep track of submarines entering or exiting the Med. Might as well fill all those tunnels with useful stuff.

Daniele Mandelli

Fighter Bombers. Why? Buzzing infringing Spanish ships is a bit of an overkill with RAF Gibraltar hosting civil flights. OPV. Agree. Not to chase Spanish ships but as a statement and for use in wider region. Composite Company with LG. The RGR is already there, has a battery of LG, for ceremonial roles. Why do we need artillery there though? Air and Search Radar. Look up Windmill Hill Signal Station. All sorts of comms on top of the rock, including radar for RAF Gibraltar, DHFCS Antenna, and no doubt SIGINT stuff. The MoD Maritime Data Centre officially keeps watch on… Read more »

Need to Know

I worked in the Maritime Data Centre in the 1980 and its ‘ONLY’ purpose was to track the Soviet Nuclear Submarines coming in and out of the Med. The Diesel Subs steamed through on the surface but all Nuclear Subs sneaked through underwater. We were a highly classified unit but it was declassified post cold war. Great memories for a young man catching Russian Nuclear Subs!

David E Flandry

Didn’t know about all the elint equipment. Armed forces are needed to defend a territory. Fighter bombers needed because of geography. IMPO.

Kayla B

We should build submarine pens under the rock