Military Exercises

Defence written question – answered on 17th October 2013.

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Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence

(1) which Royal Navy vessels were to be deployed for the cancelled Exercise Djibouti Lion;

(2) how many Royal Marines personnel, by unit were involved in the cancelled Exercise Djibouti Lion;

(3) whether his Department has made alternative plans for Royal Marines' training exercises in the next six months following the cancelled Exercise Djibouti Lion;

(4) which (a) administration and (b) other problems led to the cancellation of Exercise Djibouti Lion;

(5) when his Department received formal notice from the French government that French forces would not be taking part in Exercise Djibouti Lion;

(6) what the costs are, by category of expenditure, of the cancelled Exercise Djibouti Lion.

Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

holding answer 16 October 2013

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my predecessor, my right hon. Friend Mr Robathan, on 8 October 2013, Hansard, column 34W, to Angus Robertson.

Activity costs for individual exercises are not identified separately within the overall Cougar 13 deployment. The specific financial information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost but their marginal costs above planned operating levels are low. Travel and subsistence costs for the initial reconnaissance visit for Djibouti Lion and the subsequent visit for negotiations were £27,500.

HMS Bulwark, HMS Illustrious and RFA Mounts Bay as part of Cougar 13 were due to participate in the cancelled Exercise Djibouti Lion. RFA Mounts Bay, RFA Fort Victoria, RFA Lyme Bay and the RoRo Hurst Point still intend to make scheduled port visits to Djibouti.

The numbers of personnel, by unit, who were due to participate in the Exercise, are shown in the following table:

Unit Number of Personnel
Commando Amphibious Forces—Battlestaff 50
HQ 3 Commando Brigade RM 55
42 Commando Group 500
30 Commando (IX) Group RM (elements) 130
29 Commando Regt Royal Artillery (elements) 35
24 Commando Engineer Regt (elements) 30
Cdo Logistics Regt (elements) 120
539 ASRM (elements) 75
(1) Not all personnel are Royal Marines and the numbers have been rounded.

Some Royal Marines have been re-tasked on other activity in the region, and some personnel will return to the UK in preparation for future exercises.

Exercise Djibouti Lion required agreement on a number of administrative issues in order for UK forces to gain permission to access Djibouti. Regrettably satisfactory agreement on some issues could not be reached in time for the Exercise to proceed. This was a value for money decision; it was not for lack of available resources as has been reported in some quarters. Vessels involved carried on with their planned exercises in the Gulf region and built in additional training packages.

French units were still planned to participate in Djibouti Lion before the UK cancelled the Exercise.

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