BOTs - The Threat

No doubt, most of us heard the Government's recent assertion that terrorism consitutes the only current threat to the UK and that they have used that assessment as an excuse to cancel the building of two Type 45 Destroyers (amongst other things). This was debated at length on both Arrse and RR, with the majority opinion seeming to be that the Government is taking an optomistic view of things to say the least; instability around one of the world's shipping choke points could have serious implications for Britain, 95% of who's trade comes and goes by sea.

It strikes me that when setting out the minimum that our armed forces need to be able to achieve, a prime consideration needs to be defence of the British Overseas Territories. You could be forgiven for not knowing this, but Britain retains 14 dependent territories, fragments of the empire that have voluntarily elected to remain under the sovreignty of the UK - Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island, St Helena (including Ascension and Tristan De Cunha), South Georgia, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia. the defence of these territories remains the absolute responsibility of the UK and it is not unlikely that the UK would have to act alone in their defence (as in 1982).

The UK is almost universally recognised as holding sovereign power of the Territories but disputes do exist. Spain claims Gibraltar, both the Seychelles and Mauritius claim British Indian Ocean Territory, Argentina claims the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, there are a number of disputes over slices of the British Antarctic Territory and elements in Cyprus demand the 'return' of the Sovereign Base Areas. It goes without saying that - quite apart from the above formal disputes - internal conflict could affect any of the BOTs and invasions from other regional powers, for whatever reason, are not beyond the realms of possibility.

Some 250,000 people are British Overseas Citizens and all of them have a right to be protected by the British armed forces. It therefore seems to me that the absolute minimum capability we should retain is the ability to 'do a Falklands' i.e to project enough military power to take on a claimant and win. This does not require futile attempts to posture on the world stage but it does require the retention of a blue-water navy that has the capability to deploy at least one carrier group.

In other words, to declare the terrorism is the only threat to the UK is not only to trust that the current world situation will not change for the next few decades, is not only to trust that the US and or the EU will always provide us with practical military assistance, is not not only to trust that counter-insurgency and peacekeeping will be the limits of the demands on our forces but to sell-out people who have every bit as much right to expect defence in Stanley or Grand Turk or Hamilton as I have.

Aye seems bout right.

Plus, i thought that Russia was classed as quite a viable threat?
Looking at these vestiges of empire (aside from the Falklands) I'd say the biggest real threat was not to an OT but to Rockall from the Russians.

The original MO for 'annexing' it in the 1950s stands true again today. Especially with their present antics of flying Bears near our airspace. I'd not be a pleasant situation to have a section of Russians stationed on Rockall (which is about all you could fit), a radar station, and the consequent maritime claims. Permanent sonar bouys, etc. Would that not create a problem for Faslane?



In the spirit of resurrecting ancient threads..

there are a number of disputes over slices of the British Antarctic Territory

Article 1 - area to be used for peaceful purposes only; military activity, such as weapons testing, is prohibited, but military personnel and equipment may be used for scientific research or any other peaceful purpose; Article 2 - freedom of scientific investigation and cooperation shall continue; Article 3 - free exchange of information and personnel, cooperation with the UN and other international agencies; Article 4 - does not recognize, dispute, or establish territorial claims and no new claims shall be asserted while the treaty is in force; Article 5 - prohibits nuclear explosions or disposal of radioactive wastes; Article 6 - includes under the treaty all land and ice shelves south of 60 degrees 00 minutes south and reserves high seas rights; Article 7 - treaty-state observers have free access, including aerial observation, to any area and may inspect all stations, installations, and equipment; advance notice of all expeditions and of the introduction of military personnel must be given; Article 8 - allows for jurisdiction over observers and scientists by their own states; Article 9 - frequent consultative meetings take place among member nations; Article 10 - treaty states will discourage activities by any country in Antarctica that are contrary to the treaty; Article 11 - disputes to be settled peacefully by the parties concerned or, ultimately, by the ICJ; Articles 12, 13, 14 - deal with upholding, interpreting, and amending the treaty among involved nations; other agreements - some 200 recommendations adopted at treaty consultative meetings and ratified by governments; a mineral resources agreement was signed in 1988 but remains unratified; the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed 4 October 1991 and entered into force 14 January 1998; this agreement provides for the protection of the Antarctic environment through six specific annexes: 1) environmental impact assessment, 2) conservation of Antarctic fauna and flora, 3) waste disposal and waste management, 4) prevention of marine pollution, 5) area protection and management and 6) liability arising from environmental emergencies; it prohibits all activities relating to mineral resources except scientific research; a permanent Antarctic Treaty Secretariat was established in 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina



Although the United Kingdom claims sovereignty over this region, there are overlapping claims by Argentina and Chile. Under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, all territorial claims remain frozen, allowing the whole of Antarctica to be used as a continent for peace and science.

from: British Antarctic Territory - British Antarctic Survey

We, or anyone else, can not impose our claim on that land, without breaking the treaty.


Book Reviewer
Isn`t there an ongoing argument with the Irish, or has that been resolved?
The UN law of the sea put the kybosh on our territorial ambitions but gave us some advantages (something to do with the continental shelf). We still claim it but don't claim the EEZ extending from it, which is what a lot of the arguing was about. Us and the Irish have resolved our arguments but the Danes and Icelanders are still arguing the toss - mainly because of fishing rights but also because of potential oil rights in the area.

According to wiki there was a possibility in the 50's that the Russians would land and set up monitoring equipment for the nuke testing, but to suggest that they'd consider doing so today? Either a slightly off the wall fishing trip or a the bloke needs to pop down to Tescos for a large pack of bacofoil
Are you seriously suggesting we might end up shooting t Russians over Rockall? Seriously?
No I'm not suggesting that. That's my point. We would never fight the Russians over it. If they decide to 'rock up' there, setup a shack, we could feasible do nothing but moan. Yet the Russians could develop a small but very useful monitoring station. A very easy political goal for the Russians.

I'm answering the original OP. I don't see any threats to BOT bar Falklands, this is the only thing that seems potentially feasible given recent Russian behaviour and very embarrassing for us. UK would have two choices: A) Please can you leave? Oh, OK, you like listening to our subs. B) Well we never wanted it in the first place (cross fingers).

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