Wednesday, November 17, 2010

British Anti-Piracy Command Threatened with Closure

As Reported HERE

British antipiracy command post threatened with closure

A British military command post running naval operations against Somali pirates is threatened with closure under cost-cutting plans, The Daily Telegraph has learned. 

The threat to the Nato unit at Britain's Permanent Joint Headquarters has emerged only days after the release of Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa last year.
British defence sources have revealed that senior officers are "seriously worried" about the prospect of closing the Nato station.
Following defence cuts in Britain and other countries, David Cameron is expected to push for cuts in alliance spending and bureaucracy at a summit of Nato leaders in Lisbon this weekend.

Nato has promised to "cut fat" from its command structure, which is overburdened with multiple headquarters and other command centres.
Final decisions on plans to reduce the number of military headquarters, and cut command staff from 13,000 to 9,000 will be announced next year.
The cuts will end the duplication of many Nato command structures, where multiple HQs oversee the same operations. Host countries are fighting strongly to defend their Nato posts.
Alliance naval operations against pirates off Somalia are effectively run by two command centres, one in Britain and one in Portugal.
Portugal is lobbying strongly to defend Joint Force Command Lisbon, which has "overall command" of Nato's Operation Ocean Shield.
Portugal has argued that cutting a command unit from the host city of this year's Nato summit would be a political and public relations mistake. It has threatened to veto any cut.

British officials fear that the US has now accepted the Portuguese argument that the Lisbon HQ should survive. That has raised fears that a British headquarters will now be cut instead.

The Allied Maritime Component Command Headquarters based at Northwood, Middlesex, has "operational command" over the antipiracy operations, but is subordinate to the Lisbon HQ.

A senior British defence source said the prospect of closing the Northwood HQ had caused deep anxiety among British officers.
The source said: "It looks as if the Americans will go with the Portuguese, which is bad news for us. There are a lot of seriously worried people at Northwood." British sources said the summit would decide the broad outline of the alliance's new command structure but said final decisions on individual posts may have to wait until next year.

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