Michael Davenport, British Ambassador to Kuwait, revealed during an exclusive interview with Forces Network that Britain is considering a permanent military presence in Kuwait.

Davenport reportedly said that the Kuwaiti government originally expressed interest in the idea.

“We’re looking at all the possibilities. We’re not talking about a major deployment I don’t think, but we’re looking at what might work for both the United Kingdom and for Kuwait. As I say, it’s at a very early stage.”

In addition to supporting the counter-Daesh coalition, the British partnership with Kuwait includes joint exercising and training packages delivered to Kuwait’s military institutions and Armed Forces.

Last year at the invitation of Kuwait MOD, command personnel from 51 Brigade participated in the US-led multinational exercise Eagle Resolve 15, designed to simulate the combined defence of Kuwait. Due to its success and the strong Defence relationship with Kuwait, personnel from 51 Brigade have been invited to participate in this exercise again next year. Additionally, the Army has accepted an invitation for 2nd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment to conduct a Land Overseas Training Exercise with Kuwait Land Forces next year to rehearse joint operational planning and deployment.

For many years the UK has continued to advise and develop Kuwait’s Armed Forces through a team of embedded UK officers under the British Military Mission in Kuwait, carrying out a number of supporting roles across Kuwait’s military institutions.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Just proving again its often the UK’s ‘Soft Power’ (where we are still No 1 or 2 in the world) is key to our National Interests. Despite all the naysayers and knockers we as a country are still hugely respected.

    • It’s not power, its pretending to be something we are not. How does a small presence in a country exert any form of power.

      My guess is Kuwait will pay for the base, which will help reduce our overheads and in turn Kuwait gets another nation that will remain friendly in a period of mass uncertainty in the arab/middle eastern world. Neither of which gives any real soft power to the UK.

    • Chris this has nothing to do with soft power, the Kuwaitis don’t need aid but is a throwback to our imperial past when the UK was the dominant military power in the middle east. We were still a major player until 1971 when we retreated from east of Suez but those ties remain and were reinforced in 1991.
      Do you think the Kuwaitis are asking the UK to base some aid workers in Kuwait or military personnel?

      • Steve / sjb1968 – with the greatest respect can I gently say you do not seem to understand what ‘soft power’ actually is. It is not ‘aid’ and it is not ‘aid workers’ and it is not us ‘pretending’ to be anything. I don’t often use ‘Wikipedia’ but it does say this:
        “Soft power is the ability to attract and co-opt, rather than by coercion (hard power), which is using force or giving money as a means of persuasion. Soft power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. A defining feature of soft power is that it is non-coercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies.”

        No money (as in ‘aid’) mentioned there at all. We are not ‘selling’ anything to the Kuwaitis in this. THEY are asking US to do this as they ask us to manage their military training and development etc as the last paragraph of the article above states.

        • ** To clarify: No ‘money’ mentioned in the ‘soft power’ definition as it is a facet of coercion and ‘hard power’ **

        • Agree with Chris.

          Diplomacy wise and Intelligence wise, that is behind the scenes with SIS for example we have links throughout the Middle East and indeed the Commonwealth.

        • Chris sorry I beg to differ the Kuwaitis want protection and security and the U.K. and USA provide it in an unstable region. It is a hard power issue underwritten by our historic ties nothing more. What values do we share with them? We need their oil and they want us to deter aggressors. Unfortunately despite your protestations the U.Ks influences is waning with every cut to our military. Diplomacy is just hot air without a capability to influence events and that is where we are right now and it has been noticed As for being no 1 or 2 in the world I think the USA and China might wish to disagree.

          • Sjb1968 – I won’t get into a row over this but I am afraid you are not prepared to read what is written let alone understand the definition of what ‘soft power’ actually is. The fact you ask “What values do we share with them?” proves my point. And that you think China has ANY ‘soft power’ at all also belies your misunderstanding. China ‘coerces’ and threatens. We do not have to ‘share’ values at all. Put simply they respect our opinions and our traditions and how we go about things.

            If you want to know who is top in ‘soft power’ it goes like this:
            1. France @ 75.75
            2. UK @ 75.72
            3. USA @ 75.02

            https://softpower30.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/The-Soft-Power-30-Report-2017-Web-1.pdf

          • Chris if you don’t wish to row with someone it is never a good idea to start the message with the words you did as we both know what they imply. Secondly you then suggest I have not read the article so how many insults do you believe you can send before you get a negative response.
            Anyway in my earlier response I mentioned values because it is a part of the definition of soft power you provided.
            The report you provided is excellent but that the UK and France are the top of any league suggests a rather skewed set of criteria because both are heading in the wrong direction as military capability declines and share of world trade shrinks. The comments regarding a fast rising China also seem to underscore why we are heading in opposite directions, which in my opinion is inevitable. Why do you think they have no soft power influence. I would suggest you read the report yourself?
            All the best and perhaps be a little less prickly.

      • It is geographically a strategic location at the head of the Gulf. Checkout the map. It has a deep water port and a free trade area close to Kuwait City. Ripe for development I would say. Also Islamic rather than Islamist I think.

      • Joe – I was referring to the simple fact that being widely respected and having influence through ‘soft power’ means is absolutely in our National Interests. The Kuwait deal is one small example of the wider regard in which we, as a nation, are held by other nations.

        It is sad that so many on here cannot feel the same high regard for our own country that others feel for us.

        • “It is sad that so many on here cannot feel the same high regard for our own country that others feel for us.”

          Nail on head. Big time. Not thinking necessarily on here but in the national defeatist outlook. Just look at Brexit as a typical example. So many talk down their own nation and everything it stands for.

        • Agree to disagree Chris.

          I see no “national interest” in Britain prostrating itself before jihadist supporting dictatorships like Kuwait… or Qatar.

          What might raise respect for Britain is perhaps trying such endeavours in democracies.

          There is no power, no respect and no interest in supporting the financial muscle of ISIS.

          • Joe – the fact you had to use a term like ‘prostrating itself’ seems, to me anyway, you are not understanding what ‘soft power’ and ‘influence’ means. THEY are inviting US. And sometimes we have to shake hands and smile with people we would rather not. But by so ding we can hope to ‘influence’ rather than (as the Yanks do) ‘coerce’. (see my above reply earlier). Its called ‘being in the National Interest’. Something again I don’t think you really understand.

            And who is actually funding ISIS is totally unknown and yet you seem to have that knowledge. And lay the blame in Kuwait? So maybe even more reason to be inside their tent and ‘influencing’ them away from this policy if they are so doing rather than shouting at them from the outside.

  2. I’m lost for words. How can the government cut our military then keep a straight face in international arenas and say they still can do just ad much as they could before?

  3. Sorry someone wrote kuwait as dictatorship. I live in kuwait as an indian expat for 25 years.. The rulibg royal family are the best to happen in kuwait interms of developing the country and their citizens..Women are given equal rights here long before from 60s and there is parlimentry democracy to pass every bill to be implemented.. Also it is a safe country for foreigners..
    All throighout the world best periods were the times when a country is ruled by kingdom…many examples, Iran, Eqypt, Iraq, Afganistan, India. Europe..
    It is a fact that kuwait is threatened by its neighbours due to rich oil respurces and they need to be protected by superior foreign power. I am sure they will be paying for it directly or indirectly..

  4. This seems to me to be more about sales and espionage than military presence per-se.

    Sales – “… the British partnership with Kuwait includes joint exercising and training packages delivered to Kuwait’s military institutions and Armed Forces.”, presumably paid training packages and joint exercises and close cooperation give the opportunity to expose Kuwaiti troops and officers to U.K. kit with a view to getting a groundswell demand for the Kuwaiti government to buy stuff.

    Espionage – well, being a permanent presence and forming closer day-to-day relationships with key Kuwaiti military personnel is only going to make it more likely that our people on the ground might get early informal tip offs or pick up rumours about stuff before it is official or before MI6/GCHQ finds something out via another channel (this in addition to the embassy staff activities).

    For what will probably be a relatively low investment, or even a negative investment when the possible sales revenue is taken into account, it seems like a pretty good idea to me.

    • Spot on. It could amount to little more than a training team to a covert presence for UKSF or similar.

      Hardly overstretch.

  5. I would be interested to know how much tax revenue and UK baaed jobs foreign military sales bring. They clearly don’t bring down costs of our gear, since we buy our requirement first before looking for exports, so does this really benefit the UK purse or are we just propping up dictators around the world and making jobs for the boys for when the top brass retire.

    • Good question. Some of it is obvious, e.g. any U.K. corporation tax paid on however much additional profit a big order adds to the selling company’s bottom line and declared for U.K. tax as opposed to being shifted offshore. Additionally, if there are genuinely new jobs created or existing jobs retained that rely on the contract then one should include the boost to government coffers from national insurance and income tax paid on the salaries, on benefits not paid out to people who would otherwise be unemployed, and also on VAT on discretionary spending that would not have been made had those people been unemployed. All together a pretty complicated calculation to work out an exact figure although I suspect that somewhere in Whitehall there is a rough set of rule-of-thumb percentages of order value.

      For me the other interesting and more mysterious thing, which is probably commercial in confidence, is whether HMG gets any direct kickbacks from certain sales. T26 would be a good example where the U.K. paid a lot (all?) of the design costs so if BAE is successful in winning the Australian and/or Canadian deals it will have done that with a product whose development was largely funded by the U.K. government. In that case I would hope that there is some sort of per-unit license fee paid back to HMG to reflect its contribution to design costs. Does anyone know if that is the case?

  6. Now as our foreign adventures and deployment to Germany draw to a close what are we going to with troops?

    Young single military personnel dont like being stuck in barracks on Salisbury plain for months on end with little to.do, they want travel and adventure.

    If they don’t get it they just give notice and leave the army.

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