Preparing Kuwait For Future Threats

Part 2 of Forces News' look at joint training with Kuwaiti forces.

As Theresa May tours states in the Gulf, British troops from 3 RIFLES have been training in Kuwait.

It's all part of a bid to maintain relationships in the region

Kuwait is a country of fierce pride and patriotism, and have been a close ally to the UK for over a century.

Exercise Desert Warrior is designed to give Kuwait the skills to fight invasion and extremism.

This joint training exercise involving 51st Infantry Brigade has built on the relationship between the nations which started when Mubarak the Great aligned Kuwait with Britain at the turn of the 20th century.

Talking about the exercise Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart Peach, Chief of Defence Staff;

“We're sending a signal that we're stronger together, we're sending a signal to the region that the British forces are firm friends, and not fair weather friends. And that we can come to our friends at times when they want us to, as well as times when we want to. So it's very much a mutual decision, it's one exercise at a time and it's very much that we're listening to what our Kuwaiti friends want.”

Kuwait has an oil-dominated economy, with Kuwait City being a bustling hub of trade and industry.

But it hasn’t always been so great...

Highway 80, which leads straight out of the city to Basra in Iraq, is the main route out of Kuwait City and connects it to the Iraqi Border in the north.

In 1990 it was the route the Iraqi forces used to invade the country, and only a few months later it was the site of the deadly 100 hours ground attack which ultimately ended the war.

Saddam Husseins' invasion ran into Operation Granby.

53,000 British troops fought in the biggest deployment since the Second World War.

Speaking about the war, Wing Commander Rad Greene was an RAF air to air refueller in 1990, and is now a military advisor in Kuwait with the MoD said:

“You hear stories – that there wasn't a single Iraqi division that had its full artillery left when our guys crossed the border. And we had on all occassions reduced those enemy forces to below that 50 per cent level. So a fairly successful air campaign to set up the conditions for land to do their stuff.”

The land campaign was dominated by heavy armour.

It only took 3 days and nights to liberate but the aftermath was striking.

12 years later came the invasion of Iraq - a less clear-cut conflict. 

British forces got a very different fight than the one they’d expected. 

But it was a campaign where Kuwait provided a launchpad from which to support operations. As Brigadier Piers Hankinson of the Kuwait Military Mission put it:

“People in the Gulf realise the important of alliances, of friendships, of old friendships. And this is where the UK and Kuwait have something very deep. And the Kuwaitis have a huge empathy and wish to do more with the UK.”

Desert Warrior is the first in a new cycle of British training exercises, for a Kuwaiti military that are determined to be prepared. 

The Prime Minister recently declared that “Gulf security is our security”, and Kuwait is an integral part of this mission.