Defence is a cornerstone of the UK-US relationship. Since World War II, seven decades ago, British and American Service personnel have operated side-by-side in conflicts around the world.
From the Korean and the Cold Wars to the Gulf and Iraq Wars, our alliance has evolved and strengthened.
British personnel serve in US units, and American soldiers, sailors, marines and air force personnel operate in British units. In Afghanistan, where we and our NATO allies and partners are working side-by-side in support of the Afghan Government, our alliance is stronger than ever. We intend to keep it that way.
We also share a commitment to deliver the best possible support for the men and women of our Armed Forces and our Veterans. To that end, we have agreed to establish a new Service Personnel and Veterans Task Force to build on existing cooperation and share best practices on support to Service personnel and their families.
Both the UK and US Armed Forces have shouldered an enormous burden in recent years. When our people - our greatest assets - go to war, they and their families need to have the best possible support both then and in the future. Therefore, we have agreed to build on existing cooperation by establishing a Task Force to share best practice in supporting our Veterans, Service personnel and their families. As our servicemen and women have stood shoulder to shoulder in recent operations so the US and UK will stand together in recognising the sacrifices made by them and their families and in ensuring that we give them the best support possible.
The Task Force will bring together teams of UK and US experts from inside government and will seek the views and involvement of the charitable and business sector where appropriate. The President and the Prime Minister have named the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (Dr Clifford Stanley) and the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Mr Andrew Robathan MP) to lead the task force jointly.
The task force will initially focus on three strands of work:
- supporting Service personnel, veterans and families, in particular linking them to local communities.
- supporting the transition of those leaving the Services into civilian life, including vocational training and education.
- supporting wounded, injured and sick personnel, including physical and psychological care and rehabilitation.