British Consul provides lecture in Sierra Hall

Oscar Areliz

The relationship between the United States and Great Britain is a vital factor in the ongoing war effort in Iraq, as well as the fight against terrorism, said the Consul General of Great Britain to Los Angeles March 9.

“We have been working closely with the United States more than you think on several issues,” Robert Pierce, the General Consul, said to the audience of students, faculty and community members at the event which took place in the Whitsett Room atop Sierra Hall.

The relationship between the United States and Great Britain is of significant importance for the future success of the United States Pierce said.

British troops have been sent to Iraq to aide the United States in war efforts and training the Iraqi police. There are currently over 8,000 British troops stationed in Iraq, and the British Army had suffered more than 100 casualties Pierce said.

“We’re not here just for the ride,” Pierce said. “We are contributing a lot.”

Some of the contributions to the war effort are being made from British companies investing in the United States. Each nation invests about $250 billion in the others economy, he said.

BAE Systems, Inc. is one of the biggest British investors in the American defense industry, Pierce said. BAE develops advanced defense systems for the Pentagon and British army.

“The U.S. is very dependent of other countries for weapons,” said Pierce. “F-16s (a type of American fighter plane) wouldn’t fly without British companies.”

To help the Americans avoid any more casualties from improvised explosive devices, the British forces passed on their expertise in avoiding and defusing them, Pierce said. The United States forces have also adopted medical trauma expertise from Britain he said.

Each nation shares vital intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks he said.

Since Britain has had its share of terrorist attacks from its years fighting the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland, it has provided intelligence and information learned from those experiences to the U.S.

“There has been a great increase in sharing information on terrorism,” Pierce said. “There was not much before because every nation had different terrorist threats.”

Efforts in sharing intelligence between the nation’s police forces have helped the British develop police tactics.

“We have learned of the best policing tactics,” Pierce said. “We learned a lot from the police chiefs here.”

The European nation has also helped the United States in trying to spread democracy to other nations, such as in Africa, Indonesia, Moldova and Afghanistan, he said.

“We are trying to secure democracy and stability,” said Pierce.

About 3,500 British troops will be sent to Afghanistan, not only help restore the stability of the nation, but to also reduce the production of heroin in Afghanistan. About 95 percent of heroin in British states originate from the Middle Eastern nation, Pierce said.

Pierce’s visit to the university provided students, faculty and community members information that many had not heard before.

“He talked about the huge investments made by each nation to each other, which is something people don’t know,” said Fernando Ferrera, senior political science major.

Oscar Areliz can be reached at oscar.areliz@csun.edu.