Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - US And UK Defence Cooperation

Joint factsheet following President Obama and the Prime Minister's press conference at the White House.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Today President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron reaffirmed their commitment to continue close cooperation on defence as the United States and United Kingdom build their Armed Forces for the future.

The USA and UK share an unprecedented defence relationship that has helped secure our shared interests and values since the World Wars of the last century.  We have developed unparalleled military interoperability and interconnectedness, working together to meet the challenges of the Cold War, leading in NATO, and fighting side-by-side in defence of global interests. At every level of our defence establishments British and American service men and women train together, learn together, develop capability together and, when called upon, fight together. 

Standing Together:

British and American forces routinely operate side-by-side across a wide range of operations. A century of shared battlefield experience has led to a level of interoperability and familiarity that is unique in its breadth.  This is exemplified in Afghanistan today where the U.S. and UK are the two largest contributors to ISAF, and our Armed Forces are working together to degrade the insurgency and to train and mentor the Afghan Forces to provide security in Afghanistan.  For example, in Helmand province the US Marines’ Task Force Leatherneck and the UK-led Task Force Helmand are working together to deliver stability.   

British and American exchange personnel routinely deploy on operations with their host units.  For example British air transport pilots flew with the U.S .Air Force in Haiti earthquake relief operations, and British F-18 pilots are currently flying operational missions from the USS Stennis. U.S. Marine Corp exchange officers have deployed on operational tours to Afghanistan with their host British units, in some cases in a command position, and the U.S. Air Force has a long tradition of exchanging pilots on transport, aerial refueling, and combat aircraft with Royal Air Force units.  

Training, Learning, and Developing Together:

The ability of American and British forces to operate on the battlefield effectively is due in large part to the close-knit and constant training and exchange opportunities undertaken together.  As close Allies the U.S. and UK host each other’s forces in order to conduct training, be prepared to forward-deploy when necessary, and in many cases conduct current operations.  The U.S. currently has over 9,000 personnel permanently stationed in the UK, primarily on shared Royal Air Force (RAF) bases such as RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall, where U.S. units conduct fighter, transport, and aerial refueling operations. 

The Joint Analysis Center (JAC) at RAF Molesworth is a prime example of cooperation, where U.S. and British analysts monitor the world’s trouble spots together.  All four U.S. services send exchange officers to work with the British services, and exchange both junior and senior military officers with British defence schools. 

The UK currently stations over 800 British personnel in the U.S., conducting a wide variety of activities from conducting RPAS (Remotely Pilot Air Systems) operations in Afghanistan from Creech AFB, Nevada, to working side by side with American colleagues on major acquisition projects such as the Joint Strike Fighter and C-17 projects, to working with U.S. counterparts on cyber and space cooperation.  Approximately 200 British officers are on exchange with the American services to develop joint approaches to develop capability and increase interoperability. 

During the month of March, 2012, alone, 1,100 UK military personnel will take part in 10 training exercises with U.S. forces across the country, to include a detachment from the Royal Regiment of Artillery participating in an adventure training expedition near the Grand Canyon, a squadron of Royal Air Force (RAF) GR4 Tornadoes conducting live-fire heavy weapons training in Arizona, and an RAF squadron participating in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada. 

The U.S. and UK routinely entrust their best and brightest NCO’s and officers to each other’s academies, military schools, and units to gain experience and insight into the other partner’s way of doing business.  Exchanging military personnel ensures a cadre of individuals in each military that understands their counterparts and cross-fertilizes the best each nation has to offer in ideas and doctrine.  Also during March a senior British officer, Gen Richard Shirreff, will conduct a speaking tour at West Point, Ft. Leavenworth, and the Pentagon as part of the yearly Kermit Roosevelt Speaking seminar, a tradition between the British and American Armies that dates back to 1948.  U.S. General Robert Cone is reciprocating later in the year at the British Ministry of Defence, the Land Forces headquarters, and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

Today the UK also has a wide range of senior personnel serving in advisory or command positions in US Headquarters, including the Deputy Commander of the 1st Infantry Division, senior planning staff at CENTCOM, senior liaison positions in NORTHCOM, CENTCOM, CYBERCOM, PACOM and STRATCOM.  British officers also serve as faculty at West Point and the Naval War College.  Similarly, U.S. officers serve with the British military in multiple advisory levels, attend British defence schools, and are integrated into British combat units, sometimes in command positions.  

Collaborating for the Future:

The President and the Prime Minister agreed that both defence departments will continue to push for increased interoperability across the spectrum of military operations after today’s operations come to an end.  The U.S. defence Strategic Guidance and UK Strategic Defence and Security Review reached many common conclusions, including the need for increased cooperation in dealing with the threats we face. We are committed to working together, and with other close allies, wherever possible. 

Navy - Secretary Panetta and Secretary Hammond recently signed a Statement of Intent directing the U.S. and Royal Navies to seek ways to better develop aircraft carrier doctrine and maritime power projection capabilities. 
Land - We will also seek to develop similar initiatives to enhance the already close ground force relationship though increased training opportunities in Europe and unit exchanges in the U.S.

Air - The UK is a tier-one partner in the development of the Joint Strike Fighter - a unique program in which each country’s defence industries are sharing in the development of a common platform that will ensure the U.S., UK, and other partners own the cutting edge in air superiority for the next generation.   

Cyber - The U.S. and UK, along with other capable nations, are working together to protect vital information infrastructure from cyber attack. We are committed to building our interoperability in this vital new space, building on a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2011.  

Space - The UK and U.S. will work with other partner nations to explore the potential for collaboration and information sharing in this expanding realm of activity.

Management of defence - Both countries are committed to ensuring that our Armed Forces have what they need for the future, are given the support they and their families deserve, while maximizing the value of the resources spent on defence. There are many areas where we can work together to make this happen, ranging from our Service Personnel Task Force, to work on future energy requirements; science and technology to nuclear sharing.

Leading Together:

The United Kingdom and United States stand shoulder to shoulder with each other to deter and, if required, defeat threats to our common way of life.

The President and Prime Minister agree that there are new opportunities to strengthen this relationship further.  With new strategic circumstances come new reasons to cooperate.  We cannot afford to miss these opportunities.  Both countries recognize that many of the problems that we both face cannot be solved alone.

By working together more closely, we set an example to others and provide a basis for further collaboration with our Allies and partners, including through NATO, in the years to come.

Published 14 March 2012