Mark Drakeford calls for more Welsh troops to be based in Wales
Mark Drakeford has called for more Welsh troops to be based in Wales.
The First Minister told the Senedd that Wales provides nearly twice its population share in terms of armed forces personnel “yet we have half our population share in terms of the basing strategy of the armed forces.”
He said Wales has 5% of the UK’s population, provides 9% of the UK’s service personnel, but added that only 2.5% of them are based in Wales.
Drakeford suggested that Wales isn’t getting its “fair share” and called on the UK Government to “put it right”.
He was responding to Labour MS for Blaenau Gwent Alun Davies, who told the Senedd that it’s “important to support serving armed forces today, and to ensure that we have bases and locations in Wales that are able to support and sustain today’s armed forces.
Davies added: “In the past we have had debates here about a firm-base strategy to enable us to support and sustain additional location of the UK armed forces in this county, to support and sustain the industries that support our armed forces, and also to ensure that we can continue to offer training facilities for the armed forces.
“Would the Welsh Government, therefore, be prepared to make a statement on how it will take forward a firm-base strategy so that we can continue to support today’s armed forces as well?”
Mark Drakeford said: “He draws attention to a very important point. Wales is 5% of the UK population, yet we provide 9% of serving personnel, and we have 2.5 per cent of them based here in Wales.
“So, we contribute nearly twice our population share, and yet we have half our population share in terms of the basing strategy of the armed forces.
“Now, I have raised this directly – I’m sure others have too – with UK Ministers who are responsible for the UK Government’s integrated review which they are currently carrying out. I think they’re right to be concerned about that review.
“The future of the Brecon barracks is not settled. There are very important army presences in west Wales, which we know are – well, let’s put it no more than ‘under consideration’ as part of that review.
He added: “The current UK Government talks a lot about its commitment to the United Kingdom. One of the bits of the glue that holds the United Kingdom together, I believe, is that we have a common set of armed forces across the whole of the UK.
“It’s therefore, I think, incumbent upon the UK Government to demonstrate to all component parts of the United Kingdom that they get a fair share of the practical impact of those armed forces in the four nations.
“Wales doesn’t have that at present, I believe. I hope the integrated review will help to put that right.”