HC Deb 13 November 2001 vol 374 cc631-2W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of Exercise Saif Sareea 2 in Oman; and how successful it has been in developing the United Kingdom's Joint Rapid Reaction Force. [13512]

Mr. Ingram

The exercise activity of Exercise Saif Sareea 2 ended on 29 October and the recovery of our forces and their equipment is under way.

The objectives of the exercise were to deploy and sustain a major joint force across strategic distances, and conduct realistic coalition war fighting training in a testing desert environment. As such it was a major test of some of the equipment and personnel that are part of the Joint Rapid Reaction Force.

It will take some weeks to analyse all the results of the exercise and the lessons identified. But it is already clear that the exercise did indeed provide very valuable training and many very useful lessons have already been identified. Overall, our initial judgment is that the exercise has met its aims most successfully. It has demonstrated the ability of the United Kingdom to project forces over a strategic distance, and in doing so reaffirmed UK commitment to the stability and security of the middle east region at an important time.