Ben Wallace discusses ‘trust’ between Australia, UK and US
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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is set to announce later this week that the UK will implement a training facility in the Omani desert in the near future. A similar structure has existed for the last 50 years in Alberta, western Canada, where the British Army Training Unit Suffield (Batus) is based.
Batus opened in 1972 and has trained thousands of soldiers in live firing exercises.
Heavy materials, 400 permanent British staff and 1,000 vehicles are also located within the 2,700 kilometre-square base.
However, The Telegraph reports the current Defence Secretary will order the transfer of most resources and troops from Batus to Oman, in the Arabian Peninsula.
A defence source close to the plans told The Telegraph: “If you only have 148 tanks and 22 of them are stuck in Canada, that’s 22 tanks that are not at readiness and not available to do anything operational.
“If they are training in Poland or Duqm, the logic is that they are having a more operational and deterrent effect.”
An MoD spokesman said Batus would not close before 2023, as big tank exercises were already planned over the next two years.
The Batus camp and the smaller Wainwright training area nearby could close afterwards though a small number of staff such as defence attaches and liaison officers could remain in Canada.
Trained British troops and vehicles already available in the Middle East would be an opportunity for the UK to be more visible to partner nations such as Ukraine and Bahrain, according to several defence sources.
Incidentally, the new British base could be a disincentive for potential adversaries like Iran, the sources claimed.
British troops could react immediately to any crisis in the region and showcase British military technology to boost potential arms sales.
In early November, Mr Wallace visited Oman in an attempt to “demonstrate the UK’s commitment to the country and the wider Gulf region”, according to a Government statement.
The Defence Secretary docked the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the aircraft carrier, at Duqm port and welcomed the Omani Deputy Prime Minister for Defence Affairs and the Sultan of Oman Shihab bin Tariq onboard.
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Ben Wallace said: “This visit presents an opportunity to see UK forces working hand in hand with our Omani partners across land, air and sea exercises, promoting stability and security in the region and confronting our shared threats.”
Brigadier Marcus Mudd, Land Component Commander in Oman said: “This is all about partnership.
“Oman is a strategic partner to the UK, particularly within the Gulf region.
“Being able to draw from each other’s strengths and the specialist capabilities that we have is an incredible opportunity.
“The Future of the British Army out here in Oman is extraordinarily exciting.”
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