A 'Long-Standing' Bond: Oman Military Chief Praises Relationship With UK

The UK military is in Oman for Saif Sareea 3, the largest British joint military exercise in 17 years...


RAF Typhoons arrived in Oman earlier this month (Picture: Crown Copyright).

As British troops begin Exercise Saif Sareea 3 in Oman, the head of the country’s military has praised the relationship between the two armed forces as “long-standing”.

In a rare interview, Lieutenant Colonel Anwar Al Safi Al Huraibi said the links between Britain and the Middle Eastern state extend beyond the military - and included cultural and social connections too. 

“It is not a new relationship, it is an old one that goes back to the early 16th or 17th century, but it is not about also the history itself," he said.

"It is about the values of that the countries shared, and the two countries always standing side-by-side together to promote their values of peace and maintaining stability in the region.

"And to be more precise, we are sharing the counter piracy, the arms controls and some human types of trade being eradicated by the strong will of both countries and both nations."

Exercise Saif Sareea 3 began on 5 October. It involves 5,500 British soldiers and a further 65,000 from Oman.

Britain’s Ambassador to Oman, Hamish Cowell, said he expected the experience would be “beneficial” to the Omani military:

"Being in a coalition or working with a friendly force... we have to share the same technology, we have to share the same communications systems.

"And also we have to have some kind of common ground in doctrine or concept.

"This is not just a short term exercise, but the things that make our coalition stronger by sharing these values and terminology, and techniques, tactics and procedures."

British typhoons arrive in Oman (Credit: Crown Copyright)
British typhoons arrive in Oman (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Oman’s desert environment presents British troops with an especially challenging environment; extreme heat makes work difficult and dust can leave even the most modern of equipment useless.

"You have got to nurture them through, this is an absolutely insane environment,” Royal Tank Regiment Captain Will Baker told Forces News.

"You have got all the dust, so there will be minor problems. But in terms of catastrophic failures, we have not had that many, it is more about a bit of TLC, knowing when to stop and clear the filters."

The exercise, which will cost £100 million, has taken five years to plan and is the largest British joint military exercise in 17 years.