To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will list the (a) countries with which UK armed forces will carry out joint exercises in 2019, (b) dates of those exercises and (c) nature of those exercises.
The UK Armed Forces routinely participate in international defence exercises with allies and partners across the globe. In 2019 the UK is currently planned to take part in 23 joint exercises involving over 28 countries.
International defence exercises vary significantly in scale, complexity and the number of contributing nations, but all are focused upon developing interoperability with our allies and partners. The exercises involve a mix of live, synthetic and table top activity.
At the cornerstone of our exercise programme are NATO, the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Partner Nations and the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) alliance between the UK and France. Discrete bilateral defence activity with nations outside of these alliances also make up part of the international programme and support wider Defence Engagement.
Major NATO exercise activity in 2019 centres on development of the NATO Response Force and the ability of contributing nations to respond quickly to an international crisis. Exercises will take place in the US and across Europe in Land, Maritime and Air domains. Most notably, ARRCADE FUSION in November 2019 will test the ability of the UK led Allied Rapid Reaction Corps to provide a Corps warfighting headquarters for the Alliance. This will be the first time this capability will be held at readiness for NATO.
An annual Baltic Operations Exercise focuses on the ability of NATO forces to work collectively in the protection of nations across the Baltic region. It routinely involves over 5,000 personnel from 17 nations and includes participation by up to 40 warships and submarines and over 60 aircraft. In 2019 the UK will be contributing an Amphibious Task Group based on HMS ALBION supported by aviation and Royal Marines.
The JEF, for which the UK is the framework nation, also exercises throughout the year to develop the ability of partner nations to respond rapidly and work together. Exercise JOINT WARRIOR is the annual major exercise which involves more than 10,000 personnel from seven partner nations and other allies, the next is scheduled for April 2019.
The UK and French CJEF will conduct two major exercises in the 2019 period, in March, and in November.
In addition to the major defence international partnerships, significant bilateral exercise activity is also planned over this period. Joint training with the US makes up a significant proportion of the exercise programme and includes Aircraft Carrier, Fighter Jet and land forces exercises.
Further detailed information on bilateral and multilateral exercises, can only be released after consultation with relevant allies and partners, to avoid damaging security, bilateral relationships or strategic messaging plans.