Skip to comments.Britain may reverse East of Suez policy with return to military bases in Gulf
Posted on 04/30/2013 5:18:02 PM PDT by Smartisan
The withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan next year will create a unique opportunity to reverse the "East of Suez" decision that formed a landmark in Britain's retreat from imperial power, the Royal United Services Institute will say in a paper to be published today. Harold Wilson's government decided in 1968 to close a string of military bases in the Gulf, which had served as a linchpin of Empire for more than a century. The British withdrawal was completed in 1971, allowing the Gulf states to become independent. The think tank will say the Armed Forces are considering a partial reversal of the "East of Suez" decision. "The military intends to build up a strong shadow presence around the Gulf; not an evident imperial-style footprint, but a smart presence," writes Professor Michael Clarke, its director. "This may not yet be declared government policy," he writes. "But the UK appears to be approaching a decision point where a significant strategic reorientation of its defence and security towards the Gulf is both plausible and logical."
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
Just to clarify, UK forces have been ‘East of Suez’ (a phrase that relates to the 1956 incident and subsequent UK ‘withdrawl from ME) for day dot, its just looking like being in a more formal way now.
Thought I might break down, to the best of my knowledge, countries in the GCC that have UK forces based there.
UAE - 4 x Typhoon at Al Minbad airbase
Oman - Sentinel flying out of Al Mussanah airbase
Bahrain - UK Royal Navy Maritime Component Command, attached the US 5th Fleet. 4 x MCMV’s and 1 x Bay class LDP.
Provide space for 2000 British Army personnel somewhere and you have a real multi-faceted force able to deploy anywhere in region at short notice.
"By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
"Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"
"Ship me somewhere East of Suez, where the best is like the worst.
Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst..."
Hope and dreams ;)
Thumbs up. Kipling could write and then some. Ta for that.
What do you think of it, Smartisan?
Hey, thanks for asking.
I think in general its a ‘good thing’. UK is bringing back 15-20,000 troops from Germany by 2020, and 9500 from Afghan, so that’s an awful lot of bodies to find space in the UK force. The defence estate can manage of course, with the consolidation (not a great fan of that word, sounds like downsizing) into fewer airbases, the Army can and will be taking over these locations.
However, having bases in interesting places means you can rotate personnel through them which come as a great training benefit during times of peace. You aren’t going to join the British Army to sit in Aldershot barracks, but tell them they’ll be doing 6 months in Oman, Brunei or somewhere else and it becomes more appealing.
In a strategic sense its a good move too. China is a player in the Middle East now, with their new navy port complex in Pakistan just handed over. India too, are paying more attention to there own back yard (and don’t think they aren’t rivals just cos they speak the same language, they most certainly are).
Finally, politically, its the right call. UK has an awful lot of business with the GCC countries and hundreds of thousands of UK’s live and work over there too. Qatar and UAE investing a great deal into UK, so having a couple of bases helps cement ties. Also, it kind of show’s who’s boss in the relationship...
Your comment about “East of Suez” made me think of Kipling’s line: “Ship me somewhere East of Suez, where the best is like the worst...”
Interesting take, thanks for the reply.