Operation Temperer: British Army Responds to Terror Threat
British Army on UK Streets as Terror Threat Raised to Critical
Operation Temperer is now in force.
As the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) raises the UK terror threat level to critical, Operation Temperer is triggered to deploy British soldiers within the UK. As fears grow that further Islamic terror attacks will be made, raising the threat level to critical means that an imminent attack is expected.
British Prime Minister Theresa May announced yesterday that:
The police have asked for authorisation from the secretary of state for defence to deploy a number of armed military personnel in support of their armed officers. This request is part of a well-established plan, known as Operation Temperer, in which both the armed forces and the police officers involved are well-trained and well-prepared to work in this kind of environment. The secretary of state for defence has approved this request, and Operation Temperer is now in force.
Under Operation Temperer armed police officers responsible for duties such as guarding key sites will be replaced by soldiers, allowing the police to use the freed manpower to significantly increase the number of armed officers on patrol at key locations.
It is likely that the British public will see armed soldiers deployed at certain events, such as concerts and sports matches, helping the police to keep the public safe. Soldiers deployed under Operation Temperer will be under the command of police officers.
How Many Soldiers Will Be Deployed?
It has been reported that as many as 5,000 troops or more could be deployed as part of Operation Temperer. Original plans formulated in 2015 specified a force size of 5,100, but Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that up to 3,800 troops could be deployed in the UK as part of Operation Temperer. The BBC’s own defence correspondent believes that numbers are likely to be in their hundreds.
the Home Secretary said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that:
They [the Army] will basically be backfilling where police are otherwise occupied now, where they can do more work on this or on keeping people safe and we fully expect it to be temporary. This is a temporary arrangement in order to respond to an exceptional event.
Keys sites will include Buckingham Palace, No. 10 Downning Street and the Palace of Westminster, scene of an Islamic terrorist attack earlier this year.
Fears of Islamic Terror Network in UK
The move comes as further details of the Manchester terrorist attack are brought to light. the suicide bomber responsible for the attack, Salman Abedi, was the son of Libyan refugees given shelter in the UK and had recently returned from a trip to Libya. He was connected to the Didsbury Mosque in Manchester, which has been accused of fund-raising for Islamic terrorist groups.
It is known that former members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) lived within close proximity to Abedi in manchester’s Whalley Range district. Among them was Abd al-Baset Azzouz, who left Britain to head a terrorist network in Libya under Ayman al-Zawahiri, the successor to Osama bin Laden as leader of al-Qaeda. A 2014 report in the Telegraph revealed that Azzouz had 200 to 300 militants under his control and was an expert in bomb-making.
It is also believed that Abedi had links with Islamic State recruiter Raphael Hostey (AKA Abu Qaqa al-Britani), according to a report in the Mirror. Hostey, 24, was killed in a drone strike in May, 2016.
Islamic State have claimed respondibility for the suicide bombing in Manchester, saying in a statement:
With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah [caliphate] managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the crusaders in the British city of Manchester.
Police Prevent Further Attack
A black man armed with an axe and a baseball bat was arrested by police at a vigil being held in Birmingham for the victims of the Islamic suicide bomb attack. Quoted in the Mirror, Police Superintendent Andy Parsons said:
Officers spotted the man acting suspiciously and spoke to him. At this point they have arrested him. The man was carrying a bag, and as a precaution, Victoria Square where the vigil was being held was cleared for around 15 minutes. A small axe was recovered along with a large stick. We will be interviewing the man to understand his intentions after mental health experts have assessed his condition.
Photographs clearly show that the “large stick” was a baseball bat. The unnamed black man interrupted the vigil by shouting at a speaker. It has not been reported what he shouted.
Not the First Time Operation Temperer Enacted
It is widely reported that this is the first time that Operation Temperer has been put into effect. The last time uniformed British soldiers were deployed in the UK was in 2003 when then Prime Minister Tony Blair authorized the deployment of 450 soldiers to Heathrow Airport.
However, Operation Temperer was partly activated following the 2016 Islamic terrorist attack in Brussels, according to the Mirror. Special forces units were deployed covertly and armed response units put on high readiness. Because of operational deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, British soldiers are expert at identifying “combat indicators.”
Operation Temperer was formulated in 2015 in response to the perceived threat level following the January 2015 Île-de-France Islamic terrorist attacks when Islamic terrorists carried out a co-ordinated series of shootings, including the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, that left 17 dead and 22 wounded. Al-Qaeda group AQAP claimed responsibility these attacks. French soldiers have been protecting French public sites under Opération Sentinelle since January 2015.
Raffaello Pantucci, a security expert at the Royal United Services Institute think-tank, told the Daily Mail in 2015
[Operation Temperer] makes sense. The Paris attacks were seen with great concern because there were so many sites. The concern was would the UK be able to respond in the same way? There was understandable concern about whether they would get very stretched.
Former Cobra member Col Richard Kemp told the Daily Mail that the military have been included in counter-terrorism planning as more radicalized Muslims from Britain join Islamic State to fight in Iraq and Syria, and then are allowed to return to the UK:
They are returning with a level of capability previously unseen. They are blooded, trained, motivated and given direction to return home and attack us here.
Image: the British Army is highly trained in urban warfare, here a British Army soldier leaps out of a window at the FIBUA (Fighting in a Built Up Area) facility at Copehill Down Training Village (Crown, 2012).