Strengthening of British-Omani military cooperation

The UK is cementing its deep and special relationship with Oman for generations to come with the opening of a new Omani-British Joint Training Base. As part of his visit to Oman for the culmination of Exercise Saif Sareea 3, the UK’s largest exercise in 17 years, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson underlined the UK’s enduring commitment to Oman and highlighted the importance of protecting peace and stability in the Gulf.

Strengthening of British and Omani armies cooperation in Oman
UK and Omani forces trained, lived and worked side by side during Exercise Saif Sareea 3. (Picture source: British MoD)

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “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. 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.”

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. Mr. Williamson also met the Sultan of Oman and Omani Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs signalling his intent to sign an agreement of enduring defence commitment early next year, reflecting on wider cooperation beyond defence; and reaffirming the deep cultural links and economic ties.

Britain will open a new military base in Oman next year, sending hundreds of troops to the sultanate in the same month it is scheduled to leave the European Union. The announcement was made by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, as he observed the joint military exercise. The base will house hundreds of British troops and will be used as a training facility for the Omani armed forces. The announcement comes two years after the countries signed a comprehensive military training agreement, and just weeks after Mr Williamson succeeded in securing an extra £1 billion in funding for the military in last month’s budget. It is scheduled to open next March. Mr Williamson said the move would strengthen Britain’s regional security commitment. “The symbolism of this Omani British base opening as we exit the European Union I hope isn’t lost on people,” he said.


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