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Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 20:19 GMT
British troops to join Gulf war games
British troops in the Gulf
Operation Safe Sword will involve British troops
By the BBC's Julia Wheeler in Dubai

In September 2001 an invading enemy force will be repulsed from the Gulf state of Oman.

Not a prediction of doom for the inhabitants of the eastern reaches of the Arabian peninsula, but plans for Operation Swift Sword - the biggest British overseas military exercise in living memory.

The six -week joint military exercises will involve the entire armed forces of Oman and 25,000 personnel from Britain's army, navy and air force.

The Gulf war games are expected to include a British army division, 100 Royal Air Force aircraft and 30 Royal Navy ships.

The British armed forces are no strangers to Omanis.

They have been important advisors to Sultan Qaboos after he trained as an officer in the British Army, and members of Britain's special forces helped him end the communist backed Dhofar rebellion during the 1970s.

Training exercises like Safe Sword are often conducted in the Gulf by Nato countries.

They are used to ensure a state of readiness in a volatile region but also have an eye towards business.

The countries of the southern Gulf rely on the West for military protection but thousands of Western defence jobs also rely on continued orders from the oil rich Gulf states.

As if to underline the point, this week alone both British Aerospace Systems and the British defence subsidiary Alvis vehicles have announced multi million dollar contracts with Oman.

Britain says Safe Sword will demonstrate its forces ability to deploy over long distances.

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14 Sep 00 | Middle East
Election test for Oman
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