The United Kingdom plans to maintain an ongoing and “persistent” but not continuous security presence in the Indo-Pacific region, Chief of the Defense Staff Gen. Nicholas Carter said on Tuesday.
“The United Kingdom has plans to establish a ‘persistent military presence in the Indo–Pacific region,” Carter told a podcast hosted by the Center for a New American Security. Carter explained that the visit of the warships would be an intermittent one. “Realistically, it’s episodic… It’s not going to occur every year,” he said.
Carter noted the United Kingdom had a long-term association with many countries in the region, going back to the days of the British Empire. He referred to an advanced jungle warfare school in Brunei on the island of Borneo, which London still operates.
“Our jungle warfare school in Brunei will be available to friends and partners in due course … We’ve always recruited a lot of servicemen and women from these countries. We’ve always had 350 Gurkhas. We’re going to build on those long associations,” he said.
Carter also added that the planned increased presence in the Indo-Pacific would not reduce London’s contribution to and participation in NATO.
Last month, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. announced the AUKUS pact to “ensure peace and stability” in the Indo-Pacific region. The pact meant the unilateral withdrawal from Canberra from a multi-billion submarine purchase agreement with France in favor of the supply of a nuclear-powered fleet within the framework of the pact.
The announcement created a lot of political and diplomatic tensions between NATO allies, as Paris described the cancellation of the Australian-French submarine contract as a “stab in the back” and a “unilateral, brutal, unpredictable” action.
Meanwhile, China expressed its grave concern, saying that “this move will escalate regional tensions, provoke an arms race, threaten regional peace and stability, and undermine international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.”