As part of his visit to Oman for the culmination of Exercise Saif Sareea 3, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson underlined what he called the UK’s enduring commitment to peace and stability in the Gulf.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“Our relationship with Oman is built on centuries of cooperation and we are cementing that long into the future with the opening of our new joint base.

We stand as a beacon of stability in the region. This has never been more important as malign activity by hostile states and violent extremist organisations seek to undermine stability and subvert the rules based order on which we all rely.”

UK troops will deploy to the joint training base in March 2019 to work and train alongside our Omani partners, building on the successes of Exercise Saif Sareea 3. The MoD say that the base will support a variety of combined and joint training activity in the challenging and austere environment that 5,500 UK personnel have experienced over the last month.

According to an MoD news release:

“The exercise also tested the interaction and collaboration between civilian and military structures, providing valuable lessons about ensuring we deploy the right combination of tools to tackle the complex threats we face today.

The Defence Secretary also attended the Exercise Saif Sareea Fire Power Demonstration which involved both UK and Omani personnel who have been living and exercising side by side for the past five weeks. The exercise’s culmination saw thousands of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen from both nations execute a set piece battle across the desert.”

27 COMMENTS

  1. Good to see some forward thinking and aspiration from the MoD finally. Between this, Duqm and Bahrain; Britain is definitely back East of Suez

  2. Between this, Duqm and Bahrain; we’re seeing the start of ‘Global Britain’ I think, making ourselves more useful to our allies and more assertive internationally. Gulf makes as good a place to start as any, we have lots of connections there

    • Well so far its more Middle Eastern Britain but theres hope for the future, whenever we reopen Singapore, Bermuda and a few RAF bases Ill be impressed!

      • But we have British forces based in Brunei, the Gurkhas have a sizeable force stationed there permanently. After we left Hong Kong and Singapore that’s the last British base in the Far East unfortunately. But the king of 🇧🇳 Brunei has a great relationship with the British millitary and he wants the British army to stay. I say increase the garrison….

        • Global Britain has to be a lot more than just a sprinkling of bases, it should be more cultural than economic, more economic than diplomatic, more diplomatic than military.

          Also the idea the national audit office is trying to give the government cover for cuts in capabilities is quite ridiculous.

          • Agree Anthony on Global Britain.

            As for cover for cuts, they usually use the tried and tested “Modernisation”

  3. Once again, if Brexit happens???? Then we need more such bases and in the Far East too! These military assurances will have considerable benefit in the future.

  4. I think we are well served with bases already, legacy of empire. Little need for more. One reason why post WW2 we were so useful to the USA.

    A Naval Party is already at Singapore operating the warehouse facility there. BIOT Deigo Garcia is available, the British garrison in Brunei, the new naval facility in the Gulf, several undisclosed GCHQ sites in Oman, the vital Cyprus, facikities, Gibraltar, Ascension, Falklands, Belize, Kenya.

    Oversees assets should be primarily for intelligence gathering and arfields for power projection. Why increase the army garrison in Brunei? They can do nothing without support from the RN and the RAF.

    • So base a frigate there as in the Persian Gulf, and a dozen fighters. You don’t even need a full personnel complement all the time if reinforcements can be flown in quickly.

    • Perhaps see it from the perspective of big stick theory.

      A large, or relatively large, and well armed military installation in one country says an awful lot to the surrounding nations about how they should interact with one another. If Britain were, as it is, looking to expand its influence on nations right the way around the world, then increasing capability and personnel numbers in the bases we already have in friendly nations is a sure fire way to get their neighbours to notice us

  5. We are adding more bases while hollowing out the force, global Britain on a Budget.

    If the UK was serious about Global Britain it would boost core defence spending up to a reasonable 2.5% of GDP. Much of the money could be found from redirecting the foreign aid Budget we give the EU (around 0.2% of GDP and part of our 0.7 commitment) the UK could still maintain the largest per capita Budget in the G7 meeting the 0.5% pledge made by Blair at the G8 and not cut a single penny from any of the DFID projects. This would put an extra £3 billion a year into defence which would not only solve the equipment funding gap but would allow us to add substantial additional capability.

    No one in the developing world would even suffer as the EU would have to make up the shortfall.

    Also if Britain is serious about global Britain its best bet is to begin investing heavily in SSN’s. The UK could double production of Astute class to one per year and follow the US lead and continue to build SSN’s concurrently with SSBN’s. We did it before with resolution class and the US is doing it now so it can be done. A measly Budget if £1.4 billion a year (about 3% of the Defence Budget) gets us up to an eventual SSN force of 24 vessells. Build a follow on to Astute like the block 5 Virginia equipped with 40 plus vertical launch MBDA Perseus weapons and the UK has a world class capability that only the US can replicate.

    This gives us great leverage with the USA japan Australia as they square off against China and massive leverage with the EU as we guard there northern sea flank from Russia you can crew 24 SSN’s with around 2,500 personnel which is just one third the size of the Royal Marines.

  6. The problem for some of you arguing for more bases is cost. It costs a lot of money to base personel in foreign states both in terms of capital and running costs. And that’s before we spend a penny on the actual people and equipment. On top of that will be balance of payment costs. Pretty dry stuff maybe but they are why we pulled out of these places in the first place. We need to be smart about it otherwise we’ll be making the same mistakes we made in the fifties and sixties.

      • Is that so? Did not know that….

        The Sultan pays for the presence in Brunei too. Whether that is the lot, personnel, infrastructure, I have no idea.

    • Agree David. I do not believe more are necessary. Improve existing if need be, primarily the Cyprus installations, Gibraltar, and Ascension.

      • I wouldn’t be opposed to a small RN presence in Bermuda, however. Could be a good place to permanently forward base/carry out light maintenance on an OPV or RFA.

        Agree with improving the existing facilities though.

  7. Alas we don’t currently have the spare ships, troops or aircraft to man any more permanent overseas bases. The forces are cut to the bone and stretched tight everywhere. Increase defence expenditure to 2.5 or 3 % of GDP, it would be possible to do more. But without additional money, this just comes over as a bit of political tokenism. We can plant flags around the globe to play to the home audience, but the reality is we only have a handful of frigates that can put to sea and they are earmarked for Carrier and North Atlantic.

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