Updated: 14-May-2002 NATO Speeches

5 Dec. 2000

on the European Amphibious Initiative

by Geoff Hoon,
Secretary of Defence of the United Kingdom

Geoff Hoon, Defence Secretary, has agreed to a European Amphibious Initiative with France, Italy, Holland and Spain. Mr Hoon, and his European counterparts, signed a Declaration of Intent at a NATO meeting in Brussels today.

Mr. Hoon said:

"The UK's amphibious forces have worked with Allies for many years, particularly the Dutch. This Initiative will enhance that co-operation, and improve our contribution to both NATO and Europe. By working together better in peacetime - through closer liaison, and more combined training and exercising - our amphibious forces will operate more effectively in actual operations. This is where multinational defence co-operation really makes a difference: the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."

Currently, although amphibious forces often operate together, procedures can differ. This initiative will allow more rapid and effective deployment of amphibious forces for NATO or European-led operations, where NATO as a whole is not engaged, it involves working better with our Allies and helping them to work better with us.

Note for editors

  1. The UK's amphibious forces comprise 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, the Assault Ship HMS FEARLESS and the Helicopter Landing Ship HMS OCEAN, supported by other specialist shipping, helicopters, air defence units, artillery and mortar units, logistics and other combat support units.
  2. No additional funding is required, and the Initiative places no additional load on the United Kingdom's Amphibious Task Group.
  3. The United Kingdom already enjoys a close relationship with European nations in amphibious matters: the United Kingdom/Netherlands Amphibious Force (UKNLAF) has been in existence for 27 years. This initiative will pave the way for UKNLAF to operate in a more coherent and efficient manner with the amphibious forces of other European nations.
  4. Participating nations have agreed that compatibility with the US Navy and the US Marine Corps continues to be a fundamental requirement. Greater interoperability between European amphibious forces should make that vital trans-Atlantic link easier to maintain.
  5. Each of the five participating nations has a substantial amphibious force, and employs broadly similar doctrine. The Initiative will be taken forward by the five but, in due course, it may be opened to other European nations who are able to contribute.
  6. For further information, please contact Libby Green at the Defence Press office on 020 7218 5109.
  7. The Mod website can be found at http://www.mod.uk
    Alternatively you may contact the MOD Press Office by email at press@dgics.mod.uk

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