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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

      Provision of Hydrographic Surveying and Geographic Services

231. During 1995, hydrographic and oceanographic work has been undertaken by Royal Navy Survey Squadron units in the Southern North Sea, English Channel, South Western Approaches, Mediterranean Sea, Eastern Atlantic, Antarctic and Indian Ocean. A Royal Navy team has completed a major new survey of Gibraltar Harbour which has been incorporated in updates to the Admiralty Chart series. During three amphibious exercises in 1995, the Royal Navy made good progress with the development of a specialist capability in NATO by which a hydrographic survey can be completed in four to six hours to provide safe access to hitherto uncharted beaches for heavy-lift amphibious shipping.

232. Last year's Statement set out the decision to replace the five current Royal Navy survey ships with four larger, more cost-effective and capable vessels. Work is underway at a United Kingdom shipyard on the first of these replacements, HMS Scott, which will enter service in 1997 and which will be one of the most advanced deep ocean survey ships in the world. This new national capability will be valuable not only for defence purposes but also because it will enable the completion of the important task of defining the limits of the United Kingdom's continental shelf margins, necessary to allow the United Kingdom to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 82).

233. Military Survey provides land-based geographic support services and products for the Department. This includes direct field support, digital and paper maps and air charts, and professional advice to assist forward planning. During 1995, the main focus for Military Survey was in the former Yugoslavia where, with Allies, it produced maps to support operations and the peace negotiations. Significant numbers of uniformed field surveyors were deployed into the theatre, supported by systems which allowed the Headquarters of the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps to produce in-theatre specific geographic products for both operational and peace implementation tasks. In addition, Military Survey has supported 25 other defence deployments, contingency plans and humanitarian and disaster relief operations world-wide.

Exercises and Training

234. Although not a Military Task in their own right, exercises and training are major activities of the armed forces. Our increasing involvement in Allied and coalition operations, the changes we have made to our force structures in recent years and the increasing emphasis on joint operations all contribute to a continuing demand for training and exercises so that our forces are able to operate effectively when called upon to act. Some of the traditional methods of conducting training are, however, becoming increasingly expensive and environmentally-restricted. We are therefore seeking, with Allies and partners, acceptable ways of ensuring that our armed forces acquire and develop the skills they need to face tomorrow's challenges. As well as the training activities listed elsewhere in this Statement, Figures 4 and 5 show the wide variety of exercises already undertaken, both inside and outside Europe. And one of the largest exercises we have mounted in recent years - Exercise PURPLE STAR - is described at [refer]. To ensure that staff in Head Office and in subordinate headquarters are fully trained to support both operations and exercises, and to enable the United Kingdom to continue to play an influential role in Allied and coalition activities, we are also looking closely at the benefits of new technology to support the greater use of computer-assisted exercise play.

Photo 10: July 1995 - Royal Air Force aircrew plan a sortie at the Canadian Forces Base, Goose Bay, as part of Exercise WESTERN VORTEX[47k]

Figure 4: Exercises in Europe in 1995

Figure 5: ACE Rapid Reaction Corps: The United Kingdom's place within it [31k]

Figure 6: Exercises outside Europe in 1995

Text Box: Exercise PURPLE STAR

Ice Patrol Ship

235. HMS Endurance's 1995-96 deployment to the Antarctic included a short visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, last November, the first such visit by a Royal Navy ship since before the Falklands conflict. A bilateral agreement on the reciprocal exchange of hydrographic data between the United Kingdom and Argentina was signed during the visit. The visit was a good example of the way in which the relationship between the two countries has developed since the restoration of diplomatic relations in 1990. Since resuming work in the South Atlantic in November, Endurance has conducted several surveys at South Georgia which will greatly enhance the safety of navigation in this area and reduce the risk of damage to the environment. Endurance has also provided support for the British Antarctic Survey sites and garrison at South Georgia, and has continued to patrol the area in support of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

NATO Nuclear Forces

236. All the United Kingdom's nuclear forces are assigned to NATO and are fully integrated into NATO's planning. With HMS Victorious' entry into service, Trident's sub-strategic capability has also become available to the Alliance.

NATO Operations

237. Activities in NATO over the past year have focused on operations in the former Yugoslavia, initially in support of the United Nations Protection Force and, since December, as part of the NATO-led Peace Implementation Force (IFOR). More detail can be found at [refer] to [refer]. The multinational ACE Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) is the key land component of NATO's rapid reaction forces. More detail on the Corps can be found at [refer].

Text Box: British Forces in the Former Yugoslavia

238. A number of Reservists of all three Services, including those with linguistic, intelligence and public relations skills, have contributed to IFOR. At 1 April, 2 Royal Naval Reserve personnel, 658 Territorial Army and Army Reserve personnel and 14 members of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve were called out in support of operations in the former Yugoslavia.

Text Box: The Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps

Humanitarian and Disaster Relief

239. In July 1995, the West Indies Guardship, HMS Southampton, and her support ship, RFA Oakleaf, were diverted from their programme in response to a request from the Governor of Montserrat, a British Dependent Territory, to provide assistance following volcanic activity on the island. A small number of personnel were also sent from the British Military Advisory Training Team based in Barbados to help the Governor prepare for a possible evacuation and establish an emergency evacuation centre on the north of the island. A small training team from the Irish Guards, deployed on their annual exercise with the Montserrat Defence Force, arrived shortly afterwards; and Royal Marines from the Commando Logistics Regiment were later deployed to Montserrat to assist the Royal Montserrat Police Force with internal security duties, and to Antigua to help establish a major evacuation centre. Royal Air Force Hercules C-130 aircraft were used throughout to carry freight to Montserrat and Antigua for the evacuation centres and to help airlift those Montserratians who chose to leave the island.

Photo 11: July 1995 - A Chief Petty Officer from HMS Southampton's Helicopter Flight gives reassurance at an evacuation centre in Montserrat[46k]

240. In September, again in the Caribbean, the Royal Marines assisted the Governments of Montserrat and Antigua in clear-up operations in the aftermath of Hurricanes 'Luis' and 'Marilyn', contributing to the restoration of essential services and the re-opening of the airport on Antigua. HMS Southampton and RFA Oakleaf provided assistance to Anguilla, co-ordinating damage assessment and repairs. Work parties from the two ships were bolstered by the arrival of a party of Royal Marines, whose duties also included support to the Royal Anguillan Police Force.

Provision of a Military Contribution to Operations Under International Auspices

241. Alongside our coalition partners - the United States, France, Turkey and our Gulf allies - we continue to contribute to no-fly zone operations in North and South Iraq (Operations PROVIDE COMFORT and SOUTHERN WATCH). Both operations are mounted in support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 which calls upon the Iraqi government to cease repression of its civilian population. Royal Air Force Tornados, supported by VC10 tanker aircraft, fly reconnaissance missions to observe Iraqi military activity and to police the no-fly zones. The Army and Royal Air Force also provide personnel for the Military Co-ordination Committee at Zakho, which provides a military presence to reassure Kurdish areas of Northern Iraq and to liaise with aid agencies operating in the area as well as the local population. At 1 April, two members of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve were serving in support of the enforcement of the no-fly zone in Northern Iraq.

242. The United Kingdom remains committed to reinforcing international pressure on Iraq to achieve full compliance with all relevant Security Council Resolutions. We continue to attach great importance to the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) set up to eliminate Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 687. The Iraqi defections last year led to the release of a great deal of information in this area, making it clear that Iraq had a far more significant capability in weapons of mass destruction than Baghdad had previously declared. Information about this programme is still being assessed by UNSCOM; sanctions will continue until the United Nations are satisfied that Iraq's capability no longer poses a threat.

243. British Service personnel have continued to be involved in peacekeeping operations in significant numbers. At 1 April, over 12,500 personnel were engaged in operations in support of United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and a further 425 were participating in operations under direct United Nations command.

244. In May, a British logistics battalion was deployed to Angola for three months to support the initial stages of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM) III, whose task is to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement between the two parties in Angola. Comprehensive logistic support from an early stage was vital to the success of the operation. The United Kingdom's contribution is described in more detail at [refer].

Text Box: The United Kingdom's contribution to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in Angola

Military Assistance and Combined Exercises

245. The Department has reviewed its military assistance and training programmes to determine how they should be targeted to greatest effect in future, and how we can build on the quality and high international standing of our armed forces to assist efforts to avoid regional conflict, promote stabilising forces and assist in the spread of democratic values worldwide. As part of this review, we have established a small fund - the Defence Military Assistance Fund (DMAF) - which can be drawn upon to subsidise the costs of training and assistance programmes where appropriate.

246. The Department has established five tests be used in future to determine, from a defence perspective, how military resources, including subsidy from the DMAF, should be targeted to achieve the greatest benefits, both for the United Kingdom and for the recipient of assistance. These tests involve demonstrating whether the provision of military assistance would:

247. During 1995-96, some 4,270 students from 117 different nations attended military training courses in the United Kingdom. On 1 January, some 353 British Service personnel (61 Royal Navy and Royal Marines, 226 Army and 66 Royal Air Force) were on loan in 22 different countries. Their duties include assisting, advising and training the armed forces of the country or territory to which they are loaned.

Arms Control, Disarmament and Confidence and Security-Building Measures

248. The third and final year of the Reduction Phase of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty ended on 16 November. By that time, nearly 50,000 items of military hardware had been destroyed or converted to non-military uses. Of this equipment, the countries of central and eastern Europe had reduced nearly 34,000 items.

249. The CFE Treaty is an undoubted success. In addition to the reduction of armaments, the implementation of an elaborate and intrusive verification regime, involving large numbers of military inspectors to and from the 30 States Parties, has built considerable confidence between former Cold War adversaries. Importantly, military deployments in Europe are now more transparent, thus facilitating the provision of early warning of any concentration of equipment which could be used for a surprise attack by one state against another.

250. During the three years of the Reduction Period, the United Kingdom conducted over 100 inspections to most central and eastern European states. Those inspections included our personnel acting as "guest" inspectors on teams led by other NATO and partner states.

Photo 12 : A Hungarian CFE team inspects British equipment in Germany, early 1995

251. Post-reduction validation inspections after the end of the Reduction Period on 16 November confirmed that most States Parties had reduced their equipment holdings to the limits set by the Treaty. However, a small number had not completed their reduction liabilities by the deadline. The United Kingdom's objective is to encourage all States Parties to comply fully with their Treaty obligations, and verification inspections will continue to monitor progress towards this.

252. Implementation of the Treaty has not been without problems. More serious concerns include the so-called "flank issue", with Russia wishing to station more military equipment in the flank zones than the Treaty allows; the outstanding equipment in Belarus and reductions associated with the disputed Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea; and the treatment of the holdings of Armenia and Azerbaijan, which is complicated by the conflict between the two states. These problems are being addressed by the Joint Consultative Group in Vienna.

253. A CFE Treaty Review Conference will convene shortly to conduct a review of the operation of the Treaty. The United Kingdom believes that, despite the significant geopolitical changes that have occurred since its signature in 1990, the Treaty's fundamental aims remain relevant to the future. The commitment to maintain reduced force levels and the transparency of the arrangements for the detailed exchange of information, together with the acceptance of an intrusive verification regime, will continue to provide an important building block for the new European security architecture. Verification activity will continue indefinitely, enabling further confidence and trust to be built between signatory states.

Figure 7: CFE Largest Declared Equipment Holdings

254. The OSCE is the principal forum in which the future agenda for conventional arms control in Europe is discussed. The United Kingdom is contributing to several new initiatives within the OSCE, including efforts to develop an integrated framework for future European arms control and, as part of the Dayton agreement, an arms control regime for the former Yugoslavia.

255. The OSCE's Vienna Document 1994 is a politically-binding agreement covering a series of confidence- and security-building measures, such as the exchange of military information, prior notification of large-scale military activities, military co-operation and contacts, and a compliance and verification regime. During the year to April 1996, the United Kingdom made 13 outgoing visits under the Vienna Document and received one visit to formations and units of British forces. We also participated in 11 exchanges under the Document's military contacts provisions; most of these were with the countries of central and eastern Europe.

256. Of the 24 states that signed the Open Skies Treaty in 1992, all but three (Russia, Ukraine and Belarus) have completed ratification. We hope for ratification by these three states in 1996, after which the Treaty can enter into force. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has exercised over the last year with Ukraine, Italy, Greece, Slovakia, France and Romania. We have also made a significant contribution, using our Open Skies Andover aircraft, in gathering technical data to assist in preparation for entry into force; and are investigating ways in which our Open Skies aircraft might in future act in support of peacekeeping and other arms control regimes.

257. We welcome and support the objectives of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies. The Arrangement, in which Russia and other partner countries from central and eastern Europe are involved, would play a useful role in promoting greater openness and responsibility in the transfer of potentially destabilising equipments. As such, it would represent an important evolution from the export control arrangements that applied during the Cold War. We hope that it will prove possible to reach agreement on the Arrangement in the near future.


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Reviewed 1 October 1996

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