Wed, 21 Nov 2018
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Beirut

Britain to expand military presence in Middle East

By Jay Jackson, Lebanon News
06 Nov 2018, 16:56 GMT+10

LONDON, UK – Britain is to establish a new military base in the Gulf.

To be built in Oman, the base will house hundreds of British troops who are being deployed to the country to assist in the training of Omani troops.

The joint-training base is expected to be completed by March 2019 at which time troops from the UK will be deployed there. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson made the announcement from Muscat on Monday.

Williamson is in the Gulf for the culmination of Exercise Saif Sareea 3, the UK’s largest exercise in 17 years,

“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,” the defence secretary said Monday.

“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. For decades to come, it 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,” Williamson said.

“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.

Williamson has met with the Sultan of Oman and Omani Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs during his visit, to negotiate an agreement embodying the commitments by both countries in relation defence but also extending to other areas. He says the agreement will be ready to sign by early next year.

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