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4 novembre 2015 3 04 /11 /novembre /2015 12:30
photo UK Gov

photo UK Gov


Nov 1, 2015 Spacewar.com (AFP)


Dubai - Construction work has begun in Bahrain to build Britain's first permanent military base in the Middle East since 1971, amid security threats in the region, Bahrain's state media reported Sunday.


"The ground-breaking ceremony for the establishment of the marine facilities headquarters in the kingdom of Bahrain" was launched on Saturday, the official BNA news agency.


The ceremony was attended by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa, it said.


Hammond tweeted on Saturday that "work starts today on new @RoyalNavy base at Mina Salman #Bahrain," and said the new base "is a symbol of UK's enduring commitment to Gulf security".


The new base is part of a deal reached last year between the two countries to increase cooperation in tackling security threats in the Middle East.


Bahrain -- which is part of a US-led coalition that has been carrying out air strikes on the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria -- is already home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.


Britain is part of the US-led coalition but takes part only in air strikes on Iraq, with its warplanes taking off from the Royal Air Force base at Akrotiri in Cyprus, where it also has a second garrison.


The new base in Bahrain "will enable Britain to send more and larger ships to reinforce stability in the Gulf," British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said last year.


Sheikh Khalid, quoted by BNA, said the construction of the new base was expected to "strengthen the partnership between the two countries and enable the forces to carry out their duties effectively".


Construction of the base will cost £ 15 million ($23 million, 19 million euros) and, according to Bahrain's Al-Wasat newspaper it should be completed next year.


Britain withdrew from bases in the Gulf in 1971, in a move that led to the independence of Bahrain and Qatar and the creation of the United Arab Emirates.


Currently Britain uses US facilites in Bahrain's Mina Salman Port.

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17 décembre 2014 3 17 /12 /décembre /2014 08:30
New Submarine Squadron at Naval Support Activity Bahrain

16 déc. 2014 US Navy


All Hands Update December 16, 2014 #2
Submarine Squadron 21 replaced the Commander, Task Forces 54 Detachment December 14th at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

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24 septembre 2014 3 24 /09 /septembre /2014 12:30
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon


23 September 2014 Ministry of Defence and The Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP


Michael Fallon meets Middle East partners to discuss international response to ISIL.


Mr Fallon met with allies in Saudi Arabia yesterday and Bahrain today to discuss regional security and international co-ordination to counter ISIL ahead of this week’s United Nations General Assembly.

He said:

At the Jeddah and Paris conferences there was strong agreement on the need for a co-ordinated response to the ISIL threat. In taking action to degrade and destroy ISIL terrorists it is important that key regional partners continue to play a leading role.

The UK supports the air strikes launched by the US and regional allies last night which run alongside the action the UK has already taken in the form of reconnaissance flights, military equipment and humanitarian aid.

The UK government continues to discuss what further contribution the UK may make to international efforts to tackle the threat we all face from ISIL.

The UK has a long-standing defence relationship with both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. In Saudi Arabia the UK assists with the delivery and support of Typhoon and Tornado aircraft. Bahrain is also a key location for the UK, with onshore basing and ships located at Mina Salman Port.

While meeting serving Royal Navy personnel in Bahrain Mr Fallon witnessed the structural work being carried out to improve the navy’s facilities.

He added:

The UK already has a long-established presence in the region and in my discussions I have re-emphasised the UK’s continuing commitment and opportunities to strengthen co-operation.

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26 mars 2014 3 26 /03 /mars /2014 13:30
UK Bolsters Gulf Ops With New HQ

Increased Presence: British, American and Bahrain navies took part in Exercise Falcon Defender this year to protect high-value units during transits at sea. (UK Royal Navy)


Mar. 24, 2014 - By ANDREW CHUTER – Defense News


LONDON — Britain is adding new headquarters and engineering buildings in Bahrain to better support its growing Arabian Gulf operations.

Tucked away on the large US base that houses the 5th Fleet, the British facilities have failed to keep up with the UK’s burgeoning maritime footprint in the region. As of the start of March, gulf operations account for nearly one-third of all Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels deployed around the globe.

Now a construction firm is preparing to build a larger headquarters for the British UK Maritime Component Command (UKMCC), as well as facilities to provide engineering and logistics support for four Royal Navy mine countermeasures vessels based in Bahrain.

“The UKMCC headquarters was formed in November 2001, with just eight people. ... Today, with a command spanning an area of operations across the entire Middle East, command of 14 ships and aviation assets, a significantly larger and increasingly multi-national and coalition mission, and 41 people in the UK headquarters, the original building is no longer fit for our purpose,” the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) said in a statement released late last month.

The UK effort, worth nearly $10 million, is dwarfed by the US 5th Fleet’s own $580 million expansion. Still, the British investment signals continued commitment to one of the most sensitive and busiest stretches of international water in the world.

“The two projects for an HQ and the waterfront support group were brought together in 2012 and a contract worth $9.7 million has just been awarded to American International Contractors. Building work will commence in a few months’ time, and it is anticipated that both buildings will be finished early in 2015,” said PJHQ, the Northwood-based organization that plans and controls UK overseas military operations.

Besides its large role in gulf security and cooperation with regional allies, UKMCC leads Britain’s counterpiracy and maritime anti-terrorism efforts in the region.

The government, responding to a parliamentary question March 7, reported that 10 out of the 32 British warships and support vessels on duty and at sea were in the Middle East. Only Royal Navy operations in and around UK waters, with 12 vessels of various sizes, including small offshore patrol vessels, sport a larger number of ships. The numbers do not include nuclear submarines, the movements of which the British keep under wraps.

The Royal Navy has been patrolling the gulf region for decades. Despite handing over its Bahrain naval facilities to the US Navy in 1971 — part of a withdrawal from its bases east of the Suez Canal — the British presence in the region has largely endured. The Royal Navy, which has maintained a continuous presence in the gulf since 1980, is the second-biggest Western maritime force there, after the US.

Royal Navy assets in the Middle East, principally the gulf, include a frigate, one of the latest T-45 destroyers, four mine countermeasures vessels, a multirole survey ship and three Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships including the landing ship dock Cardigan Bay.

The mine countermeasures vessels are the key Royal Navy presence in the gulf, alongside four similar US warships that would provide the main counter to Iranian mining in a crisis.

Cardigan Bay, which acts as a mothership to the mine countermeasures ships, can keep eight UK and US vessels at sea for up to three weeks at a time.

The critical importance of countermine capability in the gulf was demonstrated by last year’s exercise, the largest ever held in the region. More than 40 nations sent 35 ships and 18 unmanned underwater vehicles for a two-week test of coalition maritime forces’ ability to keep sea lanes open in the face of mines.

France, Europe’s other significant naval power, doesn’t maintain a permanent naval presence in the gulf, but it does regularly deploy warships to the region. Most recently, a task force led by its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle traveled to the Arabian Gulf in December for a three-month mission.

Dubbed operation Bois Belleau, the deployment saw the first landing on the French carrier’s deck of an F/A-18 fighter, which was flying from the carrier Harry S. Truman, a French Navy spokesman said. A Rafale fighter also landed on the US carrier, part of an effort to boost interoperability between the two naval units.

The French unit consisted of the carrier capital ship, the frigate Forbin of the Horizon air defense class, the antisubmarine frigate Jean de Vienne, a supply ship and oil tanker and a nuclear-powered attack submarine.

Italy sends ships to the region as well. In February, the Italian frigate Libeccio pulled into Salalah in Oman at the end of a four-month anti-piracy mission, handing over duties to the destroyer Francesco Mimbelli, which will operate as part of the NATO operation Ocean Shield.

More unusually, in November, four Italian Navy ships set off on a tour of the gulf and Africa to promote Italian defense and civilian sales.

Firms such as Finmeccanica, Fincantieri, Elettronica and Beretta turned the carrier Cavour into a “large defense show like Le Bourget,” according to Italy’s defense minister, with calls to ports in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.

Sailing with the Cavour were the patrol vessel Comandante Borsini, the support ship Etna and the multimission frigate Bergamini. The Italian Navy asked the firms on board to pay fuel costs, allowing the trip to become a low-cost method of training sailors.


Tom Kington in Rome and Pierre Tran in Paris contributed to this report.

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19 décembre 2013 4 19 /12 /décembre /2013 08:30
Obama Issues Directive to Sell Weapons to GCC


Dec. 18, 2013 - By ZACHARY FRYER-BIGGS and AWAD MUSTAFA – Defense News


Prince Turki Al Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, last week accused the Obama administration of working behind Riyadh's back and planning other steps in the Middle East.


WASHINGTON AND DUBAI — The White House this week issued a presidential determination to facilitate the sale of weapons to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).


The move by the Obama administration shows the rapid development in events since Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans this month in Bahrain to sell weapons to the Gulf Cooperation Council as a block, as opposed to selling to individual nations within the council.


According to the document issued Monday, the White House wants to confirm the eligibility of the Gulf Cooperation Council to receive defense articles and defense services under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act.


“I hereby find that the furnishing of defense articles and defense services to the Gulf Cooperation Council will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace,” the document stated.


The move by the White House follows last week’s announcement at the GCC Summit in Kuwait to establish a Joint GCC Military Command.


According to a State Department official, the GCC is being designated for future sales, however, congressional approval has yet to be established when deals flow to Congress.


On Dec. 7, in Manama, Hagel said the Pentagon “will better integrate with GCC members to enhance missile defense capabilities in the region,” adding “the United States continues to believe that a multilateral approach is the best answer for missile defense.”


Officials at the State Department said that over the past several years, the US and the GCC have explored ways to expand multilateral defense cooperation in response to evolving regional security challenges.


“The United States and the GCC agree on the strategic imperative to building better multilateral defense ties as a complement to the strong bilateral relationships the US has with gulf partner states,” the State Department added.


“The US-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum, US Central Command-led multilateral exercises and the quarterly Air and Air Defense Chiefs Conference are but a few of the examples of our combined efforts to coordinate at the policy and operational levels.”


Officials added that the determination is the next step in improving US-GCC defense collaboration as it enables the GCC to acquire defense articles to improve interoperability and enhance critical military capabilities, including items for ballistic-missile defense, maritime security and counter-terrorism.


However, the actual provision of defense articles or services to the GCC would be considered on a case-by-case basis, consistent with US law and policy.


Various other international organizations are eligible to receive US defense articles and services, such as NATO, the UN, and the AU. “The designation reflects our strong commitment to the GCC and our desire to work with our gulf partners to promote long-term regional security and stability.”


Despite the significance of the move, analysts view it as an “appeasement to Saudi Arabia.” Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, said the recent statements by Saudi officials signified a dissatisfaction with US policy.


On Saturday, Prince Turki Al Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, said in Monaco that the Obama administration is working behind Riyadh’s back and planning other steps in the Middle East.


“The presidential determination shows support for Saudi Arabia’s plan for a unified GCC approach,” he said.


“This support comes within a defense and security sphere in which the GCC are more robustly banded than other sectors, such as economic levels, social policies and others,” he added.


He said Saudi policy is fixated on protecting monarchies while pursuing Bashar al-Assad’s removal, which “does not necessarily jibe with other GCC states points of view.”

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