UK looks to set up permanent army training base in Oman

Muscat - 

The UK is seeking to set up a permanent army training base in Oman, the country’s visiting defence secretary Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP announced on Wednesday.

Fallon said the base would be staffed by British soldiers to train Omanis and would come up near Duqm. Oman and the UK carry out regular training, but Fallon said he wishes the relationship between the two armies to resemble the strong naval and air force ties.

“We’ve been conducting land training here, but we have not had a permanent presence,” he said at a press conference. “We want to put that onto a more permanent base by establishing a permanent training hub.” The two countries also signed an MoU to develop naval repair services at Duqm Port, for use by warships from countries around the world. Fallon said the services would be a strategic asset to the UK’s Royal Navy.

“It’s on the Indian Ocean and it would enable our navy to deploy at a greater length across the region and into Asia Pacific,” he said. “For our navy, like for other navies, of course, it offers a repair and maintenance facility and a dry dock of which there is no equal.” The agreement between Oman Drydock Company and the UK-based Babcock International could be worth up to £100mn, officials said. Babcock is building the UK’s two new aircraft carriers and also maintains its naval shipyards. The MoU calls for a joint venture company to be formed as soon as this year.

“We have a British company and an Omani company investing in the future security and prosperity of Oman,” he said. Fallon said the announcements reflect Britain’s strategic defence review, which was released in November 2015. The report, which outlines the UK’s defence needs through 2025, calls for a more permanent British presence in the Gulf.

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