11 Oct 2018

Defence Minister reaffirms UK commitment to the Gulf

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster has reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the Gulf whilst visiting Iraq, Bahrain and Oman.

As part of the five-day visit, the minister also officially opened the UK-Oman joint exercise, Saif Sareea 3, alongside Oman’s Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs, His Excellency Sayyid Badr bin Saud bin Harub Al Busaidi.

The official opening of Exercise Saif Sereea 3 signals the start of the UK’s largest military exercise in 17 years, which will see over 5,500 UK troops train alongside Omani counterparts. It is the largest and the most complex of a series of events which will see the UK Armed Forces work with every single Gulf partner in a combination of engagements on land, sea, and in the air over the coming months.

Mr Lancaster also visited Duqm port, opening the Joint Logistics Support Base, which will support UK forces operating and exercising in Oman and the region, including Queen Elizabeth Class carrier operations from 2021.

In Iraq, Mr Lancaster met Iraqi Defence Minister Erfan al-Hiyali, to discuss the close cooperation between the UK and Iraq in the fight against Daesh as well as confirming that the UK will be contributing 10% of the total personnel to the NATO Mission in Iraq to help build a strong security service. He also met UK troops who are currently deployed as part of the 79-member Global Coalition, commending their efforts in training nearly 80,000 Iraqi Security Force members in battle winning infantry, engineering, and combat medical techniques as well as providing courses on countering IEDs and other critical skills.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said: “The security of the Gulf is of the utmost importance to not only regional stability, but to the world’s economic stability.

“Our commitment to our international responsibilities in the region is unwavering. Saif Sareea is far more than just a bilateral military exercise, it is a demonstration of our commitment and will leave behind a legacy for decades to come.”

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