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Our hard-working servicemen and women should be allowed to be as close as possible to their friends, family and wider support networks when not on active service…Recent assessments of the makeup of the Royal Welsh regiment, for instance, show that 98% of recruits are from Wales, but they are forced to move to Wiltshire, Norfolk or Surrey to serve their country
That’s what the Welsh nationalist party’s leader, Hywel Williams, said as it was announced that the number of British military sites across the UK including Wales is to be cut by 10% in the coming decade. The biggest hit for Wales is the planned closure of the Brecon Barracks in 2027 which has existed since 1805.
At present the three Welsh regiments of the British Army are all based at sites in England with the Welsh Guards at Pirbright near Guildford in Surrey. 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards are based in Norfolk while the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh are located at Lucknow barracks in Tidworth, Wiltshire. Williams emphasises that there are a number of suitable sites across Wales that could house the three regiments and would help provide a case for keeping the Brecon Barracks open.
However, both the Army and the MoD have said Williams’ demands are impractical and cannot fit in with the current planned structure of the Army in years to come such as the Royal Welsh Guards providing security for the Queen. They also rejected claims by Williams that Wales was being overlooked by the MoD reaffirming that the Defence Electronics & Components Agency (DECA) based at MOD Sealand in North East Wales will be significantly involved in providing maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services for components of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
Wing Commander Nicholas Gatonby has given evidence at Mold Crown Court concerning the case John Arthur Jones, 66 from Anglesey in North Wales. Mr Jones stands accused of 13 counts of endangering Royal Air Force training aircraft landing at RAF Valley and its satellite base RAF Mona during a ten month period by shining lights in to their cockpits. Mr Jones has denied the accusations.
Wing Commander Gatonby, who was the commanding officer of No.208 Squadron based at RAF Valley during the period in question, told the court of one such incident in December 2013 which Mr Jones is accused of being involved. Gatonby and a student pilot were conducting a night time landing at nearby RAF Mona.
There was a very bright light shining from the ground on to the aircraft…it destroyed our night vision completely.
Gatonby and his student aborted the landing and went around again before making a second attempt. The bright light once again illuminated the aircraft making landing impossible forcing them to return to RAF Valley.
The prosecution have accused Mr Jones of keeping detailed notes on RAF activity to both complain against the activity and then, more sinisterly, use it to predict when an aircraft was most likely to fly over so he could set up his light in order to shine it in to the cockpits. The prosecution claim that he become obsessed with the air activity to the point where he had a total disregard for the safety of the pilots.