SOLDIERS from across the region have been deployed to protect a British military base in Bahrain as tensions continue to flare in the Gulf.
A detachment of troops from 1st Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1PWRR) have flown from their new HQ in Cyprus to reinforce the UK Naval Support Facility.
The infantry unit, which recruits soldiers from across Portsmouth and is nicknamed the ‘Tigers’, has taken over the role from the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment.
Meanwhile, the bulk of 1PWRR will remain at high readiness at Alexander Barracks in Cyprus to deploy to war zones anywhere in the Middle East or Africa.
The news came as tensions between the UK and Iran continued to simmer in the region after the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker last month.
Officials from the Ministry of Defence insisted the Tigers’ deployment was not in response to threats by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, which in recent weeks have chased or raided vessels.
‘This is a long-planned and routine rotation,’ an army spokesman said. ‘1 PWRR have taken over a number of tasks; as well as being the regional stand-by battalion they will conduct routine guarding at a number of locations, including the Naval Support Facility in Bahrain.’
Former defence secretary, Penny Mordaunt said Britain needed to maintain its ‘continual presence’ in the Gulf.
The Portsmouth North MP added: ‘I’ve no doubt the Tigers will do a fantastic job no matter what occurs.
‘Their deployment sends a strong message about our commitment to our regional partners and our common interests.’
The move to Cyprus is a change of scenery for 1PWRR, which has been based in Germany for the past 13 years.
As well as potentially being called to the frontlines, the Tigers’ new regional response role could also see them being scrambled to provide humanitarian aid.
The battalion has been through ‘thorough and arduous’ training in Germany to prepare them for the mission.
They have spent months sharpening their deadly warfighting skills through a range of simulated scenarios, which culminated in ‘Exercise Allied Spirit 8’ – a huge multi-national wargame involving 4,100 Nato troops.
1PWRR is expected to be based in Cyprus for the next two years.