Britain may restore a permanent military presence in the Gulf

A British destroyer passes south through the Suez canal in 2003

From David Blair, Telegraph:  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. . . .

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."

Any new British presence would be focused on the United Arab Emirates, where the RAF is planning to use al-Minhad airbase, according to the think tank. The Royal Navy has always kept three minesweepers and at least one frigate or destroyer in the Gulf, supported by a small permanent staff in Bahrain. The paper suggests this flotilla could be reinforced.

The Army plans to use its links with Oman’s armed forces to base troops in the country. This would allow the use of "thousands of square miles of challenging terrain ideally suited to the training of military units in the skills of desert warfare."   (photo: Getty)

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