Secret State 28: why are Britain’s armed forces operating in 42 countries?

2 December 2020 — Political Concern

Artwork by Leila Dougan

A reader has drawn attention to a very detailed report by Phil Miller, a staff reporter for Declassified UK, an investigative journalism organisation that covers the UK’s role in the world. – see  Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The UK has a military presence in at least six European countries, as well as at NATO administrative sites, which Declassified has not included in our survey.

Declassified has not included in the figures the UK’s small troop contributions to UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan or the Cyprus buffer zone, nor staffing commitments at NATO administrative sites in Europe or most of its special forces deployments, which are largely unknown

Closer to Russia’s border, the RAF bases Typhoon fighter jets at Estonia’s Amari Air Base and Lithuania’s Siauliai Air Base, from where they can intercept Russian jets over the Baltic as part of NATO’s “air policing” mission.

730 Britons are spread throughout the United States. Many of them are clustered in US military command centres around Washington D.C. and NATO sites in Norfolk, Virginia

We only counted NATO bases where the UK has a major combat presence e.g with Typhoon jets deployed, not just officers stationed on a reciprocal basis.

Britain’s armed forces have a far more extensive base network than ever presented by the Ministry of Defence.

New research by Declassified reveals the extent of this global military presence for the first time – as the government announces an extra 10% spending on defence.

  • UK military has base sites in five countries around China: naval base in Singapore, garrisons in Brunei, drone testing sites in Australia, three facilities in Nepal and quick reaction force in Afghanistan
  • Cyprus hosts 17 UK military installations including firing ranges and spy stations, with some located outside UK’s “sovereign base areas”
  • Britain maintains military presence in seven Arab monarchies where citizens have little or no say in how they are governed
  • UK personnel are stationed across 15 sites in Saudi Arabia, supporting internal repression and the war in Yemen, and at 16 sites in Oman, some run directly by British military
  • In Africa, British troops are based in Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Mali
  • Many UK overseas bases are located in tax havens such as Bermuda and Cayman Islands

Why do decision-makers in our small country, with many unmet needs, spend money in this way? Two suggestions are made:

Under a heading, ‘Encircling China?’, we read “The rise of China is leading many Whitehall planners to believe Britain needs military bases in the Asia-Pacific region to counter Beijing’s power. However, the UK already has military base sites in five countries around China. “

And later: “In addition to concern over China, military chiefs believe Britain is now locked in a permanent competition with Russia. The UK has a military presence in at least six European countries, as well as at NATO administrative sites, which Declassified has not included in our survey”.

And more is on the way:

  • Last month, former Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the UK needs a more permanent presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The current Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, has gone further. In September he announced a £23.8-million investment to expand Britain’s army and navy bases in Oman, to accommodate the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers as well as many tanks.
  • General Carleton-Smith, chief of the General Staff, recently said: “We think there is a market for a more persistent presence from the British Army (in Asia).”

Is this expensive and damaging lunacy due to such people still trapped in the ‘50s mindset (right)?

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