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#394998 - 12/17/10 09:22 AM BATSUB: The Short Goodbye
Marty Online   happy
The British government of Prime Minister David Cameron says it must downsize the already minimal contingent of British Forces in Belize. The formal announcement came today in the form of a press release issued by the Belize Ministry of Defence. The exercise to reduce and close some military bases worldwide came shortly after the UK conducted a Strategic Defence and Security Review of its national security and defence priorities. Britain is facing tough economic times, and with both its regional and international security commitments spread thin across the globe, the UK public expenditure has been placed under tight scrutiny. Whilst the training base known in Belize as BATSUB won't face closure, its operations will be significantly scaled back from 70 soldiers to a skeleton staff of less than 10, effective next January. The BATSUB Commander told us more today at Price Barracks:..

Lt. Col. Rob Lindsay, Commander BATSUB
"In January 2011 BATSUB will be identical to what it is at the moment, but sadly we will be reducing throughout the duration of 2011 and then in 2012. At the end of that process I would expect a British element between 6 and 8 soldiers and a locally employed element of just over 60 locally employed civilians. At the moment we are going to go through a reduction, but the key thing is that BATSUB will continue to exist, we will continue to train out here and at a strategic level government to government and the General who was visiting over the last two days had an extremely good office call your Prime Minister yesterday. At a strategic level the two governments are working hand in hand and a strategic partnership that we have had for many years between our two nations is going to continue."

Commander of Belize Defence Forces, Brigadier General Dario Tapia says the downsizing of BATSUB's operations will have minimal impact on the BDF, but expressed concern about losing Helicopter support for his forces.

Brig. Gen. Dario Tapia, Commander BDF
"The only concern I have is that - we have expressed this to the British - is the helicopter support, that is where I see being affecting us, or that's the main effect that I will see. Really and truly BATSUB has assisted with some limited support because most of our training that they offer by the British army - we send our fellows to the UK and so I don't see that affecting our training. As a matter of fact with the General that came yesterday that gave the news to the government, they offer some courses that will be available for us next year and so the training in the UK will continue, I don't see that being affected and as I mentioned its only the helicopter support."

The helicopters are used to ferry BDF soldiers to remote positions on the Belize - Guatemala border. According to Tapia, the British have committed Helicopter support until May of next year at which time he believes the BDF should have adequate contingency plans to fill the gap. More than a hundred civilian jobs will be lost due to the withdrawal. A report in the British newspaper, The Telegraph states that the British government will be saving an estimated 9 million pounds as a result of the reduction in forces across the globe….

Channel 7


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#394999 - 12/17/10 09:24 AM Re: BATSUB: The Short Goodbye [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Major downsizing in BATSUB to take effect in January 2011

The systematic withdrawal of three thousand British troops from Belize annually as part of a major downsizing effort by the British Ministry of Defense takes effect in January 2011. The reduction will have a dramatic impact on various aspects of our local economy. Directly affected by the extraction will be the Belize Defense Force as it is heavily reliant upon BATSUB helicopters to transport soldiers on routine patrols to the far reaches of the country. Over the past year the British Army has terminated the use of its helicopters for emergency response and since David Cameron took office as prime minister earlier this year there has been an ongoing debate concerning the removal of British troops from allied nations as part of a cost cutting initiative. The announcement was made on Wednesday and today we spoke one on one with Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lindsay, who says it has been a difficult decision to end jungle training and other military activities in Belize.

Lt. Col. Robert Lindsey, Commander, BATSUB

“Since the last general elections there has been a strategic defense and security review that’s taken place in the Ministry of Defense and as part of that a number of very difficult decisions have had to be made. One of those has been to reduce what we do in Belize and to reprioritize some of our assets here, in particular [relocating] the helicopters elsewhere. So the decision has been made to reduce the amount of training that we take, that takes place in Belize and also to reduce the size of BATSUB itself.”

Isani Cayetano

“Is this going to be a systematic reduction?”

Lt. Col. Robert Lindsey

Lt. Col. Robert Lindsey


“Well we are going to reduce over the duration of 2011 and into 2012 but then the intention is to keep BATSUB at a smaller level which will still consist of over sixty of the local employed civilians and a number of British soldiers as well.”

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of the financial loss that this will bring about, I know that the Government of Belize and the country on a whole makes quite a lot of money based on the relationship between the Government and BATSUB. Can you speak to us in terms of what that figure would be more or less?”

Lt. Col. Robert Lindsey

“Yes, and I’d like to clarify some misconceptions here. I’ve seen the article in the Daily Telegraph that mentioned a figure of ten million pounds per annum. That is correct as far as the cost of BATSUB is concerned but it is not the amount of money that is generated from a local point of view. For example, the cost of the helicopters which is extremely high, that money is spent in the United Kingdom on behalf of the helicopters as opposed to going into the local economy here. So there will be a reduction in the amount of money that comes into the local economy particularly around Ladyville and across the board but nothing like what is being suggested in some of the communications that I’ve seen.”

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of Belize and England being allies would we still be able to receive any military assistance from the United Kingdom in the event of some threat upon our sovereignty?”

Lt. Col. Robert Lindsey

“Well it has been absolutely clear that the level of communication and liaison that may take place in any such circumstances will be exactly the same in the future as it has been in the past and I think the fact that BATSUB is still going to be here albeit at a lower level is also demonstration of our overall intent and goodwill towards Belize.”

The British Army Training Support Unit in Belize was established in 1994 upon the withdrawal of British troops from Belize. Since then the unit was established primarily to train soldiers in jungle warfare.

Channel 5


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#395003 - 12/17/10 09:31 AM Re: BATSUB: The Short Goodbye [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

BATSUB ANNOUNCES IT IS DOWNSIZING ITS OPERATION IN BELIZE

Rumors of the closure of the British Army Training Support Unit stationed in Belize have been floating around for months now. But today it was confirmed, that while BATSUB is not closing, the facility will be drastically reduced in the New Year.  A joint statement issued today by the Belize and United Kingdom government gave the soft sell on the move, saying that the UK Ministry of Defence, after consultation with the government of Belize has concluded that BATSUB will remain open but at a reduced level. This afternoon, the BATSUB Commander Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lindsay, flanked by the BDF Commander Brigadier General Dario Tapia, explained how the downsizing will work. 

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lindsay; BATSUB Commander

“In January 2011 BATSUB will be identical to what it is at the moment. But sadly we will be reducing throughout the duration of 2011 and into 2012. At the end of that process I would expect there to be a British military element between six and eight soldiers and a locally employed civilians element of over sixty locally employed civilians.”

Brigadier General Dario Tapia; BDF Commander

“The only concern I have and we have expressed this to the British Military is the helicopter support. That is where I see this affecting us. That is the main effect that we will see because really and truly BATSUB has assisted with some limited support because most of the training that they offer by the British Army we send our fellows to the UK. So I don’t see that affecting our training. As a matter of fact with the general that came yesterday to give the news to the government they offered some courses that will be available for us next year and so the training in the UK will continue, I don’t see that being affected. As I mentioned only the helicopter support; however, having said that we are currently making contingency plans to be able to address that gap that will be left for us.”

Lt. Col. Lindsay says that the British Helicopters will remain operational in Belize until the middle of next year.  Brigadier General Tapia says that by the time the downsizing is complete, the BDF should have its contingency plan in place.

Brigadier General Dario Tapia

”What we are looking at are two things, one is making route to our remote observation posts and there are essentially for the time being two; Machakila and Rio Blanco. The intent is to build an all weather road to those locations so that we are able to insert our troops. At the moment we are being inserted with the support of BATSUB. Once we put that road there we will be able to insert them on our own and also it will enable us to be able to extract any injured soldier if needs be via those roads. The other proposal would be that we build the roads as far as we can and then be able to buy flying hours from Astrum Helicopter. That is the contingency plan that we are working on at the moment.”

According to Lindsay, by the time the downsizing is complete, he expects that no more than eight British soldiers will be stationed in Belize. The downsizing will also affect the civilian staff as close to a hundred Belizeans, including contractors will be laid off.  That move will carry a huge economic impact; but the BATSUB Commander says it’s not all bad news.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lindsay

“I couldn’t comment at a higher level, clearly we have a number of locally employed civilians, about a hundred and sixty at the moment and we are going to reduce down to sixty. We have a number of local contracts some of which will be reduced in the future so the economic benefits of BATSUB but still very much be there but they will be at a lower level than currently. If I may just put this into context, the reductions that we are going to see in BATSUB throughout 2011 and into 2012 are much less than the reductions that we saw sixteen years ago when British Forces Belize first became BATSUB in 1994. Then it was a massive reduction in numbers both of locally employed civilians and British soldiers over here. We are going to see another reduction but at a smaller lever.”

Tapia says that despite the reduction in the size of BATSUB, the military ties between Belize and the United Kingdom remain strong and there is the possibility that the operation could be upgraded again in the future.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lindsay

"Well I can’t say what’s in the future but one of the reasons why the British Government is not keen at to close BATSUB is that we have had to make this decision as part of the strategic defense review which is being impacted by what is happening at Afghanistan and a very challenging economic situation in the United Kingdom. It is possible that in a number of years time we are actually in a position to increase the size of BATSUB again and indeed that is exactly what happened in 1994. BATSUB when it started in 94 was much smaller than it is now, much smaller. So, it is possible that BATSUB will close at some stage in the future; it is possible that BATSUB will increase in size at some stage in the future. At the moment we are going to go through a reduction but the key thing is that BATSUB will continue will continue to exist, we will continue to train out here and at a strategic level; government to government and the general who was visiting over the last two days had an extremely good office call with your
Prime Minister yesterday. At a strategic level the two governments are very much working hand in hand and a strategic partnership that we have had for many years between our two nations is going to continue.”
 

Brigadier General Dario Tapia

“Obviously it is a decision made by the British Government and as a nation we have to understand that they are facing challenging times with their economy and so the Government of Belize and my ministry have to accept it even if we perhaps don’t like it. As I mentioned we now have to put our contingencies in place to be able to preserve that vacuum that BATSUB will leave for the nation. As Colonel Lindsey mentioned they will still remain her and it is quite possible in the future that they will return. As we mentioned we have a strong relationship with them, the Belize Defense Force maintains a strong relationship with the British Army; we will continue to receive training from them. So even though the reduction is really on BATSUB the maintenance of relationship between Belize Defense Force and the British Army will continue.”

The British Army Training Support Unit Belize has been in operation in Belize, since 1994 when the British government withdrew British Forces from Belize.

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#395056 - 12/18/10 01:20 AM BATSUB abandons Belize
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BATSUB abandons Belize

The British government’s announcement this week that it is cutting the number of troops stationed in Belize to a token presence could not come at a worse time for Belize’s already stagnant economy.

The closure of British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) will mean the loss of an estimated 160 jobs and an estimated £3 million in income.

Belize Defense Force (BDF) commandant, Brigadier General Dario Tapia said on Wednesday that: “The only concern I have and we have expressed this to the British military is the helicopter support. That is where I see this affecting us. That is the main effect that we will see because really and truly BATSUB has assisted with some limited support.

“Because most of the training that they offer is by the British Army, We send our fellows to the UK, so I don’t see that affecting our training. As a matter of fact, the general who arrived yesterday to give the news to the government, they offered some courses that will be available for us next year and so the training in the UK will continue,

I don’t see that being affected. As I mentioned, only the helicopter support is affected.However, having said that, we are currently making contingency plans to be able to address that gap that will be left here.”

BATSUB Commandant, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lindsay said: “In January 2011, BATSUB will be identical to what it is at the moment. But sadly we will be reducing throughout the duration of 2011 and into 2012. At the end of that process, I would expect there to be a British military element between six and eight soldiers, and a locally employed civilians element of over 60 locally employed civilians.”

BATSUB has been around since 1994, when Britain withdrew its army garrison from Belize. At the time when Belize got its Independence in September 1981, Britain had pledged what was then called “an appropriate defense guarantee.” That kind of open-ended guarantee has allowed them to scale down their defense commitment to Belize.

http://www.reporter.bz/index.php?mod=article&cat=Headline&article=4848
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Live and let live

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#395064 - 12/18/10 09:01 AM Re: BATSUB: The Short Goodbye [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
Jungle Training Axed as Belize Base Shuts Down



British infantry will no longer receive top level jungle training after the Ministry of Defense has made the surprise announcement to mothball its base in Belize as part of cost savings. The departure of 3,000 troops a year who go through the tough training has also led to fears that Belize will be more vulnerable to foreign invasion similar to the incursions by Guatemala in the late 80’s.
It is also unclear whether Lord Ashcroft, the former Tory party deputy chairman, who has vast business interests in Belize, has been consulted over the closure of the British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB).

It is also understood that the Ministry of Defense has given serious consideration to closing its sovereign bases in Cyprus, where it has airfields and listening posts, but was persuaded not to by the Americans. Already the Army has withdrawn Belize’s main emergency air evacuation by stopping its helicopters responding as an air ambulance, particularly here in the cayes.

But the final withdrawal of British forces, which have been in Belize since it gained independence in 1981 when it was known as British Honduras, has been signaled by the reduction of the training base from 70 soldiers to a skeleton staff of less than 10 soldiers.

Brigadier James Stevenson, who commands the Infantry Battle School, told British Forces News that it was regrettable the training mission was closing. “We’ve really clicked here in Belize, so it is a pity. We are looking at alternatives because what we don’t want to do is just admit defeat and say, well, we can’t go to Belize therefore we’ll have to go back home. We are still looking for somewhere where we can present the same challenges.”

The training area gives British troops some of the most testing exercises in the world with access to 5,000 square miles of primary jungle provided for free by the Belize government. In the last three years 9,000 troops, including Special Forces, have been to Belize. They additionally provide high level training for the Belize Defense Force.

The area has been the home of the British Army’s jungle training for the last 16 years and the withdrawal will mean the loss of 160 local civilian jobs along with an estimated £3 million ($4.6US Mil) injected into the local economy.

The helicopters from 25 Flight Army Air Corps, which ferried local troops to positions on the Guatemala border, trips that take a day by foot, will be removed by next month. Mothballing BATSUB will save the MoD £9 million ($14.06US Mil), the cost of two Challenger 2 tanks, but is seen as a tiny saving compared to the £36 billion overspend by the MoD.

Officers are considering training areas in the United States, although these are unlikely to be free. The MoD said after consultation with the Belize government BATSUB would only remain open from a “reduced level” next year. It added both governments “look forward to a time when BATSUB will be able to expand its training support function once again”.

(source: The Telegraph, by Thomas Harding, Defense Correspondent)

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#395066 - 12/18/10 09:05 AM Re: BATSUB: The Short Goodbye [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION WEIGHS IN ON THE DOWNSIZING OF BATSUB

Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party John Briceno today weighed in with concerns about the announced downsizing of the British Army Training Support Unit stationed in Belize. The announcement was made yesterday in a joint statement issued by the Belize and United Kingdom governments. Briceno says the news of downsizing could not have come at a worse time for Belize.

John Briceno; Leader of the opposition

“The announcement is downsizing almost to the point of closing down couldn’t have come at a worse time. During Christmas time when Belizeans are trying to get together with family to celebrate the birth of our Lord. The loss of revenue of over twenty five million dollars will have a significant impact on our already deteriorating economic climate in Belize. There is going to be a loss of over a hundred and fifty jobs and that has an effect on the economy. The second point that I would like to make is that the Prime Minister, I remember when the leader of the opposition almost attacked the Mr. Cameron at that time, saying that if he should give his friend Lord Ashcroft and kind of position in his conservative government that Cameron is risking damaging the relations between Great Britain and Central America. I wonder if that did not have some impact on the decision to start to downsize significantly BATSUB in Belize. I say that simply because the British are currently doing some budget cuts but they have spend on BATSUB in Belize is almost insignificant to the amount of the different budgets in the UK.”                    

Over a hundred civilian staff will be laid off by the time the operations are scaled back in the first half of 2011. BATSUB Commander Lt. Col. Robert Lindsay says that the British Helicopters will remain operational in Belize until the middle of next year; while Brigadier General Tapia is optimistic that by the time the downsizing is complete, the Belize Defence Force will have its contingency plan in place. The downsizing will also affect the local economy as the move will suck about twenty seven million dollars out of the economy. Lt. Col. Lindsay says the silver lining in this dark cloud is that the unit will remain operational with the possibility of a future upgrade. The BDF Commander says that despite the reduction in the size of BATSUB, the military ties between Belize and the United Kingdom remain strong. The British Army Training Support Unit Belize has been in operation in Belize, since 1994 when the British government withdrew British Forces from Belize. 

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#395067 - 12/18/10 09:07 AM Re: BATSUB: The Short Goodbye [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
BATSUB to downsize in 2011


The government of the United Kingdom (UK) has done its Strategic Defense and Security Review and in a cost-cutting effort, has decided to bring home the majority of the British Forces stationed around the world.

What does that mean for British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB)?

Well, it was announced today by Colonel Robert Lindsay, BATSUB’s commander, and Brigadier General Dario Tapia, Commander of the Belize Defence Force (BDF), that BATSUB will remain operational, but it will be downsized.

Lindsay told the press that throughout the duration of 2011, BATSUB will be downsizing in staff. He said that it is expected that by end of the downsizing process, there will be a regiment of about 6 to 8 British soldiers and about 60 civilians on the BATSUB staff. Currently there are 160 civilians under BATSUB employment.

He said that the British soldiers from BATSUB will be re-deployed within the British Army, which is increasingly going to be stationed in the UK itself.

Tapia said that the main area that the downsizing will affect is the helicopter support. He said that BATSUB currently provides the BDF with extensive helicopter support that will eventually have to be replaced as the downsizing is completed.

He said that BDF soldiers’ training in the UK will not be affected since they are sent out, rather than trained here. Tapia said that that arrangement will not change and that the relationship between the British Army and the BDF will continue.

Tapia said that the BDF is currently executing contingency plans to allow for filling the vacuum that the BATSUB downsizing will create in May 2011 when the helicopters go back to the UK.

According to Tapia, those contingency plans include building roads to BDF’s remote observation posts, which allows the BDF to insert troops in these areas and extract injured soldiers.

Currently the remote observation posts are only accessible with the assistance of BATSUB, which will be discontinued around May, 2011.

He said that the BDF is considering buying flight hours from Astrum helicopters, as a part of the contingency plans.

The last time BATSUB downsized was in 1994, when it was called British Forces Belize.

Amandala

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#397678 - 01/19/11 09:30 AM Re: BATSUB: The Short Goodbye [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Brits trim the fat and the number of troops in Belize

Forty-three Belizeans working at the BATSUB Headquarters in Price Barracks, Ladyville have been given formal notice that come April first their services will no longer be needed. The layoff comes as part of a massive reduction effort by the British Ministry of Defense to ease its presence in Belize and several other countries. The job cut will see a loss of approximately three million dollars in salaries per annum. In mid-December the British Army Training Support Unit Belize announced that it would be withdrawing three thousand troops systematically over the course of 2011. While they will maintain a lesser presence in the country on a routine basis the organization will only retain a third of its existing workforce. According to BATSUB commander Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lindsey, over the next eleven months a total of fifty-three of a hundred and sixty local employees will remain at BATSUB.

Lt. Col. Robert Lindsey, Commander, BATSUB

Robert Lindsey

“BATSUB is going to continue to be here in Price Barracks but throughout 2011 we will be reducing our posture here and sadly as part of that we have very recently had to give notice to a number of employed civilians.”

Isani Cayetano

“Can you give us an idea as to the number of civilians who were employed here that would stand to lose their jobs as a result of this reduction?”

Lt. Col. Robert Lindsey

“Well we’ve given notice to forty-three locally employed civilians who are currently [here] and sadly they will be finishing work for BATSUB at the end of March. [Uhm] and then there will be another reduction towards the summer of this year when we would expect probably about another fifty or so redundees.”

Isani Cayetano

“Can you speak to us on any other phases of reduction besides the one that’s also scheduled for summer of this year?”

Lt. Col. Robert Lindsey

“Well there will be elements that are [facing] reduction across the board as we move out pieces of equipment and so on but it’s going to be throughout the whole of 2011 so I don’t think there’s going to be any one day where certainly most things have gone. The majority of the British military personnel here will be here until July and into August and then the majority will leave in August. But other than that it’s an evolution throughout the whole of this year.”

Isani Cayetano

“So what becomes of the jungle training aspect of having British troops come into Belize?”

Lt. Col. Robert Lindsey

“Well although we are going to be a much smaller organization we are still going to be training out here although it’ll be at a smaller level. So we will still have British troops coming out here on an annual basis training here partly in the jungle and partly in some other areas. So there will still be a British footprint and presence here both within Price Barracks on a routine basis and also from a training point of view as well so we will still be using many or some of the jungle training areas that we have traditionally used.”

BATSUB has also terminated the use of helicopters for emergency response as well as for the transportation of BDF troops to remote areas of the country.

Channel 5


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