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EXCLUSIVE: Britain 'Considering Permanent Military Presence' In Kuwait

Forces Network has been given special behind-the-scenes access following the UK military teams who are training and advising the armed...

Britain is considering establishing a permanent military presence in Kuwait at the request of its government.

It was revealed by Michael Davenport, British Ambassador to Kuwait, during an exclusive interview with Forces Network.

He says the Kuwaiti government has expressed an interest in such a presence, but stressed it would not be a "major" deployment.

"We're looking at all the possibilities," said Mr Davenport.

"We're not talking about a major deployment I don't think, but we're looking at what might work for both the United Kingdom and for Kuwait."

"As I say, it's at a very early stage."

It would come under a framework between the two nations, known as the 'Joint Steering Group', which contains a working group focused on defence cooperation.

Ministers meet every six months, the last of which took place in December, when the action plan for this new consideration was signed off.

Kuwait has recovered since the first Gulf War ended nearly 30 years ago, with the country now in many respects a modern, Westernised part of the world.

Iraq's 1990 invasion, though, is still what many people in the UK tend to remember about the country.

The nation has retained a deep affection for Britain, which played an important part in freeing Kuwait - highlighted by the presence of Union Flags during liberation celebrations.

Today, the British military mission team remain in Kuwait, providing training to the country's armed forces.

It is formed of 38 members and funded by the nation's government.

Defence relationship "central" to British-Kuwaiti relations - Michael Davenport MBE, British Ambassador to Kuwait.

Former RAF Wing Commander Rad Greene runs history tours of Kuwait and says the country has spent a lot of money on rebuilding following the war.

"In 1991 this place may well have still been covered in landmines."

"There was an awful lot of unexploded ordnance around us."

Kuwait

Kuwaitis have learned from the invasion, and are getting on with life.

We spoke to Kuwaiti Commandant Major General Abdullah Dashti, about his experiences of the conflict. He said:

"I was 29... a young officer who joined the Navy to see the world and suddenly you're facing tanks."

"I tell you honestly, we took advantage of that invasion - how to rebuild Kuwait, how to understand the strategic context, how to understand how diplomacy and strategy work together, building the armed forces from the liberation.

"I've been through a lot of wars but I've never had the feeling of going back home feeling liberated, and I had that feeling that day."

Colonel Tim Wordsworth, UK advisor to the director of studies at the Mubarak al-Abdullah Joint Command and Staff College in Kuwait, told us about the progress that the country has made. He said:

"It plays a critical role in the Gulf.

"It's not the biggest Army, it's not the most capable Army, but they pride themselves on being the brokers, on being the people everybody turns to when there's an issue.

"It's a crucial ally for the UK in the region."

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