US ‘still committed to Menwith Hill site’

Menwith Hill.
Menwith Hill.

The US Department of Defense has made a commitment to RAF Menwith Hill in a review of requirements for bases for US forces in Europe.

Operations at the Nidderdale site are unaffected by this latest review and it is said to remain an important base for the United States, with American servicemen and women and their families.

Julian Smith, MP for Skipton and Ripon, welcomed the news.

He said: “I welcome the US commitment to RAF Menwith Hill, which is a reflection of the importance placed on the work of the Nidderdale base and its contribution to global security.

“American servicemen and women and their families, who come to be based in North Yorkshire, are an integral part of the community and we will continue to give them a warm welcome, and our support, as they continue their vital work.”

in March last year, the Nidderdale Herald reported on an announcement by the US European Command that around 500 military and civilian jobs were to go at Menwith Hill as the US scaled back its defence budget.

It said staff were due to leave by October 2016.

Speaking at the time, Squadron Leader Geoff Dickson, RAF Commander at Menwith Hill, said: “There will be some level of reduction in UK Ministry of Defence positions at Menwith Hill. Any reduction in UK staffing will be fully considered with the Ministry of Defence, trade unions and relevant organisations, with normal attrition and reassignment wherever possible.”

On Thursday last week, in a written statement to the House of Commons, The Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon said an infrastructure review had led to the US deciding to withdraw from its base at RAF Mildenhall - adjacent to RAF Lakenheath - and to consolidate at RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire its activities at RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth.

However, he added: “The US presence at RAF Fairford, Menwith Hill and other sites is not affected by this review.”

RAF Menwith Hill is owned by the Ministry of Defence and made available to the US Department of Defense under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement of 1951.

The base was opened in 1960, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s the infrastructure and the number of personnel at the site continued to expand. However, the number of staff working at the site has been rumoured to be decreasing in recent years.