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.

33 COMMENTS

    • 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

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

        • 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.

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

    • 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.

      • 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.

  1. 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.

        • 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.

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

    Sorry. How many double deckers is that?

      • 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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 surface movements on the straights, and I would bet sub surface too with a modern day SOSUS, IUSS set up. And I would also think it is logical that Gib is one of the locations for undersea cable intercept.

      Intelligence IS the reason for Gibraltars strategic importance. Just like Cyprus.

      The tunnels until recently had a NATO JOC within, believe that may have closed. British Army trains in them, and I’d guess the Gibraltar Armaments Depot and our POL storage facilities might make use of them, unsure on POL though.

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

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