If you are following the news, you will be fully aware that the UK has now launched Operation Temperer. The move comes in the wake of the devastating attack on Manchester Arena, in which 22 people have tragically lost their lives. In this blog, we’ll give you a brief on what Operation Temperer is, what it means for the citizens of the UK, and the Army’s role in Operation Temperer.
What is Operation Temperer?
Operation Temperer constitutes the plan, by the Prime Minister, to deploy military personnel on the streets of Britain. As of today (24th May 2017), 984 soldiers have been deployed on the streets of Britain, across areas such as London and of course Manchester. In Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. The army’s role in Operation Temperer is for military personnel to replace the currently serving armed police officers.
Prime Minister Theresa May has made it abundantly clear that she is aware of the political implications of the move, and that ideally the operation will be in effect for as short a time as possible, but that the current situation demands it. This is only the third time the threat level has been raised to critical, since the system was introduced in 2006.
Although this is a substantial and game-changing move, the prime minister has emphasised the need for UK citizens to remain calm, and that the military personnel are only there to keep them safe.
Theresa May has also made it clear that the military personnel will be under the command of police officers. The move is also important, given the variety of sporting events taking place this weekend. Amongst these events is the FA Cup Final. Further security measures have also been enforced, with Chelsea FC announcing that they’ve cancelled their scheduled Premier League victory parade.
The Army’s Role in Operation Temperer
The last time Temperer was considered, as we blogged about, was after the 2015 attacks in Paris. However, on that occasions, it was decided that the armed forces should only be used as backup; and therefore the Operation was not launched fully. The general public have not reacted well to the presence of armed forces on the streets before, as shown by the sharp reaction to Blair’s decision in 2003 to deploy soldiers and tanks to Heathrow airport.
Likewise, there are resource figures that need to be taken into account. Where the same system has been deployed in France, it has proven to be far from a temporary arrangement. There are more soldiers patrolling in cities like Paris than ever before, however it should be noted that this is only down to the frequency of attacks. The military is worried about being overstretched though, and it is already being discussed about when the right time is to end the deployment.
So, why the army? Well, for a start, it’s felt that combat trained forces are something of an ‘ultimate’ solution when it comes to terrorist attacks. While police are trained to deal with these scenarios, ultimately there is a limited amount to what the police can do, in terms of responding with weapons and initiating defence procedures for the public. By using the army, the government can ensure that they have the best possible defence mechanisms in place.
Along with this, there is the impact that this will have on the public. This is a decidedly mixed subject. While it’s true that some members of the public will feel disturbed or frightened by the presence of the armed forces on the streets, other members of the public will feel much safer and reassured knowing that the government is exercising maximum resources to deter the threat.
For the time being, Britain remains on critical alert. Until the perpetrators of Monday’s attack are brought to justice, this doesn’t look likely to change. The Army’s role in Operation Temperer, and establishing a safer Britain, continues to be integral.