British Forces Cyprus

Last updated
British Forces Cyprus
MinistryofDefence.svg
British Forces Tri-Service badge
AllegianceFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Size3,500 military personnel [1]
7,000 civilians [1]
Part of UK Ministry of Defence
Garrison/HQ Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Cyprus
Commanders
CBF (Commander British Forces Cyprus)Air Vice-Marshal Peter Squires OBE
Notable
commanders
Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston KCB CBE ADC

British Forces Cyprus (BFC) is the name given to the British Armed Forces stationed in the UK Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on the island of Cyprus and at a number of related 'retained sites' in the Republic of Cyprus. The United Kingdom retains a military presence on the island in order to keep a strategic location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, for use as a staging point for forces sent to locations in the Middle East and Asia. BFC is a tri-service command, with all three services based on the island reporting to it.

Contents

History

Dhekelia Garrison Dhekelia.jpg
Dhekelia Garrison

Following the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, the UK retained two Sovereign Base Areas in Akrotiri and Dhekelia and an RAF air marshal was appointed as the Administrator of the Sovereign Base Areas. [2] The Treaty of Establishment also provided British access to 40 'retained sites' in the republic of Cyprus; these included numerous radar stations, several ports, a range of accommodation and support facilities and a firing range. [3] In March of the following year British Forces Near East was created, the command of which was then held concurrently with that of the post of Administrator. [4]

On 1 March 1961, the Southern Group of Middle East Air Force became Near East Air Force and was based in Cyprus. By 1962, the title British Forces in Cyprus was in official use. [5] In 1976, as part of a Foreign and Commonwealth Office brief in preparation for the visit of the CENTO Secretary-General to the UK, it was recorded that:

..two Vulcan medium bomber squadrons, one Lightning all-weather fighter squadron, one Hercules transport squadron and one Whirlwind helicopter squadron were stationed on the island. It would be very difficult to relocate these forces and their training facilities to a base in a CENTO member state since an agreement would have to be negotiated. Besides, the United Kingdom would also have to pay the host nation for facilities granted. The sites in Cyprus were guarded by one infantry battalion, defended by a Bloodhound anti-aircraft missile squadron and one armoured car squadron. In fact, the Vulcans based at Akrotiri were ‘the only declared nuclear force in CENTO’ and the island played a unique part in the capacity of the air route of CENTO for the transfer of forces east of Suez in times of war. The radar sites and the fighter squadron were considered an extension of the NATO air defence system." [6]

British Forces Cyprus retains the right to use 13 retained sites with the remaining 27 having been returned to Cyprus after the Ministry of Defence no longer required them. The most recent sites to be returned were the Berengaria Married Quarters in 2011, because they had become obsolete and the firing range on the Akamas peninsula in 1999-2001. Its training value was deemed less important than the environmental damage inflicted on an ecologically important area and the consequent political liability to British Forces Cyprus. [7] [8] [9] [10]

Force structure

UK Sovereign Base Areas (pink) Cyprus SBAsInRed.png
UK Sovereign Base Areas (pink)

Episkopi is the current location of Headquarters British Forces Cyprus. Commander British Forces Cyprus (CBF) and Administrator of the Sovereign Base Areas is a two-star appointment, alternating every three years between a British Army major-general and a Royal Air Force air vice-marshal. Consequently, the Chief of Staff British Forces Cyprus (COS) is a one-star appointment from the opposite service of the commander.

Episkopi Cantonment is home to the Sovereign Base Areas Administration, the civilian authority in the territory. [3]

July 2020 organisation of British Forces Cyprus. Cyprus Graphic 2020.png
July 2020 organisation of British Forces Cyprus.
Atlas pallet loader of Joint Movement Squadron at Akrotiri RAF Joint Movement Squadron MOD 45168123.jpg
Atlas pallet loader of Joint Movement Squadron at Akrotiri

Within British Forces Cyprus are a number of permanently based units; however, the large proportion of British forces in Cyprus are rotated between Cyprus and the UK:

The Queen's and King's Divisions continue to rotate battalions through Cyprus every three years. [13]

Commanders

The following officers have been in command of British Forces Cyprus: [14]

General Officer Commanding Cyprus District

Commander, British Forces in Cyprus

Commander, British Forces Cyprus

Operation TOSCA

Operation TOSCA is the name given to the British contribution to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The British Contingent (BRITCON) numbers between 200 and 300, and consists of three distinct parts:

The URR is drawn from across the Field Army, and will not necessarily be a specialist combat unit (infantry or cavalry), or even part of the Regular Army, as, since 2008, units of the Territorial Army / Army Reserve have undertaken deployments to the Green Line. [39] [40] [41]

One of the roles of the support units of BFC is to assist as needed the British units deployed with UNFICYP, which are not part of BFC, but are instead under the direct command of the United Nations.

Units

Listed is the unit that provided the Regimental Headquarters and the bulk of the troops. Often soldiers from a number of Territorial Army units would also deploy as part of the force.

British Forces Cyprus Installations

The Republic of Cyprus

In addition to the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, 1960 Treaty of Establishment between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Cyprus granted the UK the right to permanently make use of 40 further sites on the island for military purposes. [105] [106]

NamePart ofCountryCountyOpenedUnits
Berengaria Village Married QuartersBritish Forces Cyprus Cyprus Limassol The Harakis Borehole and the Berengaria village pipeline are also retained to supply water. [105]
British East Mediterranean Relay StationBritish Forces Cyprus Cyprus Zygi Used the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to broadcast BBC World Service programming to Israel and the Arab world. [107]
Troodos Leave CampBritish Forces Cyprus Cyprus Troodos 1878The accommodation is used by BFC, visiting troops and youth services in support of adventurous training. Site also contains married-quarters, NAAFI and Works Unit. [105] Contiguous with RAF Troodos.
RAF Nicosia and CampsBritish Forces Cyprus Cyprus Nicosia Not currently in use because it lies in the UN Buffer Zone between Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus.
RAF Mt Olympus Radar StationBritish Forces Cyprus Cyprus Troodos A British Longrange Radar Station operating on Mt Olympus' Peak.
RAF Troodos British Forces Cyprus Cyprus Nicosia 1878A remote Signals Station.
Kissousa Headwaters, Reservoir and Pumping StationBritish Forces Cyprus Cyprus Limassol A secure water supply for the Akrioti Sovereign Base Area [108] [109]

Occupied Northern Cyprus

Three retained Military facilities are located within the territory of Northern Cyprus. They are not currently in use by British Forces Cyprus because the UK does not acknowledge the Government of Northern Cyprus. [105]

NamePart ofCountryCountyOpenedUnits
Famagusta Joint Services Port UtilityBritish Forces Cyprus Northern Cyprus Famagusta Lies in Northern Cyprus and therefore not currently in use.
Famagusta Family Shop and NAAFI HQBritish Forces Cyprus Northern Cyprus Famagusta Lies in Northern Cyprus and therefore not currently in use.
Famagusta NAAFI Transport YardBritish Forces Cyprus Northern Cyprus Famagusta Lies in Northern Cyprus and therefore not currently in use.

Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia

The two British enclaves in the Republic of Cyprus, act as platforms for the projection of British military assets in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. [110] The enclaves serve as centres for regional communications monitoring from the eastern Mediterranean through the Middle East to Iran. [111] [112] Facilities within the retained areas also support British military activities on retained sites in the Republic of Cyprus and provide unique training opportunities. [113]

Western Sovereign Base Area

NamePart ofCountryRegionOpenedUnits
Episkopi Cantonment British Forces Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia Western Sovereign Base Area 1960Home to HQ British Forces Cyprus [114]
Paramali North and South QuartersBritish Forces Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia Western Sovereign Base Area 1960
RAF Akrotiri British Forces Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia Western Sovereign Base Area 1960The Largest Royal Air Force Station outside the UK.

Eastern Sovereign Base Area

NamePart ofCountryRegionOpenedUnits
Alexander BarracksBritish Forces Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia Eastern Sovereign Base Area 1960
Ayios Nikolaos Station British Forces Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia Eastern Sovereign Base Area 1960The Joint Service Signal Unit (JSSU). JSSU is a static communications organisation maintaining secure links from Cyprus to the rest of the world. [115] The station is a significant centre for GCHQ collection of signals data and intelligence from the Eastern Mediterranean Region and Middle East. [116] [117]
Dhekelia AirfieldBritish Forces Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia Eastern Sovereign Base Area

A small airfield whose primary employment is as a British Army Helicopter Base. [118]

Dhekelia Cantonment British Forces Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia Eastern Sovereign Base Area 1960

Headquarters of the Eastern Sovereign Base Area, a resident infantry battalion, an engineer squadron, and various logistic units, as well as UK-based civilians and dependents. [119]

Nightingale BarracksBritish Forces Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia Eastern Sovereign Base Area

See also

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