183 US Troops in Secret Locations Across Britain

The U.K. government is refusing to disclose where scores of U.S. military personnel are stationed, Matt Kennard reports. 

U.S. Air Force training at RAF Molesworth, England, July 28, 2020. (U.S. Air Force/Jennifer Zima)

By Matt Kennard 
Declassified UK

  • Secrecy surrounds the U.S. military, intelligence and special forces presence in Britain
  • MP tells Declassified: “We have a right to know everyone who is on board this U.S.S Great Britain”

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) recently told Parliament that 11,912 U.S. military personnel are deployed in Britain across seven RAF bases, while 52 are inside the U.S. embassy in London.

But the ministry added that 135 U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) personnel are also permanently based in “multiple” undisclosed locations across the U.K. 

A further 48 DoD personnel are based at undisclosed locations in London. 

These 183 Americans on secret deployments are all part of the U.S. Air Force’s 501st Combat Support Wing, which is headquartered at RAF Alconbury in Cambridgeshire.

Its operations include “support communications, intelligence, and global strike operations, in the European theatre and around the world.” 

Asked for their locations in Parliament recently, the MoD replied: “The [American] personnel are based in multiple locations across the UK, but grouped together for administrative purposes.” 

It added: “This group would include, but not be limited to, personnel on university courses, industry placements or personnel on exchange.”

That active-duty U.S. military personnel permanently deployed in Britain undertake university courses and industry placements does not appear to have been publicly stated before. It is possible they are living among the civilian population. 

‘Security Risk’

U.K. Defence Minister James Heappey, left, with Secretary of
State for Defence Ben Wallace in September 2022. (Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street)

Asked further if the MoD would provide the locations of the personnel grouped together for administrative purposes, Defence Minister James Heappey replied: “I am withholding the information requested as its disclosure could place the security of those personnel at risk.”

It is unclear why disclosing the locations of these personnel would place them at risk. 

The MoD also recently disclosed the locations of the 150 U.S. personnel who are deployed in Britain with NATO. The majority are based at the alliance’s Intelligence Fusion Centre at RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire.

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Kenny MacAskill, the MP who asked the questions in Parliament, told Declassified:


“The U.K. is fast becoming a giant aircraft carrier for the United States. It’s not just the over 10,000 personnel we know are at air bases across England. There are others elsewhere, and what are they doing? One hundred and eighty three is still a large number and whilst some may be studying, the role of others is far more concerning.” 

MacAskill, a former Scottish justice secretary, added: “With war in Ukraine these are worrying times and we should know who is here and what they are doing. We have a right to know everyone who is all on board this U.S.S Great Britain.”

Kenny MacAskill, MP, in 2011, while serving as Scottish justice secretary. (Scottish Government, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

‘No Comment’

The U.S. intelligence community also has a large but secret presence in Britain. The U.K. government has consistently refused to divulge even which U.S. agencies are working in Britain, let alone deployment levels. 

It is unclear if the U.K. government is aware of the full American intelligence deployment in Britain. 

When asked how many U.S. personnel were based at one site operated by the Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ, Britain’s largest intelligence agency, the Foreign Office replied: “It is the longstanding policy of successive British Governments not to comment on intelligence matters.” 

The C.I.A.’s main base in Britain is RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire which is thought to host a thousand American spies. Croughton provides what is described as “tech support activity” for the U.S. Special Collection Service based at a joint CIA-NSA facility in Maryland.

Meanwhile, the NSA jointly runs GCHQ’s installation at Bude, Cornwall, which intercepts communications from transatlantic cables carrying internet traffic. The NSA even paid £15.5m towards developing the site, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden. 

“Securing external NSA funding for Bude has protected (GCHQ’s core) budget,” one document noted.

Special Forces

North door of the Ministry of Defence headquarters in London. (Harland Quarrington, Defence Imagery, Flickr)

Another level of secrecy surrounds the likely presence of U.S. special forces in Britain. The U.S. does not disclose the locations of most of its forces operating under the Special Operations Forces Command, or SOCOM. 

But during 2020 U.S. special operations forces deployed to 154 countries, or roughly 80 percent of the world’s nations. It is highly likely this included Britain. 

Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, told Declassified:

“The extent of the U.S. military presence in Britain is shocking, not least because they appear to operate and control a number of military bases without scrutiny or accountability. To discover that there are additional personnel at undisclosed locations – doing who knows what and why – is an additional affront.”

Hudson, who sits on Declassified’s board, added: “It’s time for this to change: Parliament must be informed of everything pertaining to the so-called ‘special relationship’ with the U.S., and a new transparency established.” 

Recently, Declassified revealed that 129 U.S. airmen are to be deployed to Britain’s territories on Cyprus, after the MoD refused to divulge the numbers.

The U.K. Ministry of Defence would not provide an on-the-record comment for this article. The U.S. Department of Defense did not respond to Declassified’s request for comment and information.

Matt Kennard is chief investigator at Declassified UK. he was a fellow and then director at the Centre for Investigative Journalism in london. Gollow him on twitter @kennardmatt

This article is from Declassified UK.

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17 comments for “183 US Troops in Secret Locations Across Britain

  1. shmutzoid
    February 19, 2023 at 20:19

    Well, might as well make a game of guessing why those 183 super secret personnel are there. Hmm —–> help plan/coordinate propaganda/psy-ops to counter any lack of resolve among British citizens, who, as time goes on, see how this is really a US/NATO war against Russia and want no part of it. ……,..,.Or——-> they are there to help train Ukie neo-Nazis in the fine arts of false flag ops -something big is gonna be needed to sway the public to ‘stay the course’. Any other guesses??

  2. Steve
    February 19, 2023 at 18:04

    Kick em out for crying out loud.

  3. Cynic
    February 19, 2023 at 14:52

    “The U.K. is fast becoming a giant aircraft carrier for the United States. ….”

    Aahhmm — ‘Airstrip One’ ?

  4. Ian Perkins
    February 19, 2023 at 07:32

    Perhaps it’s time the UK petitioned the USA to be recognised as a member State and incorporated into the Union. Puerto Rico might be an appropriate ally in such a campaign.

  5. Paul Citro
    February 19, 2023 at 06:44

    Britain also known as Airstrip One. See the novel 1984.

  6. Carolyn Zaremba
    February 18, 2023 at 21:25

    This merely confirms what commentator Garland Nixon has said: that Europe and the UK are not sovereign nations, but colonies of the United States.

  7. malcolm thomas
    February 18, 2023 at 20:14

    Has anyone asked the Russian’s?

  8. February 18, 2023 at 12:43

    During WWII the GI’s coined the expression SNAFU. That appears to be the situation here. And they let these guys out with nuclear weapons!

  9. February 18, 2023 at 08:04

    What is unclear to me is why EU countries (and the now non-EU Britain) don’t see how the US manipulates, abuses and plays its allies for fools. The history of the US screwing over other countries is replete with examples of the US exploiting and then abandoning other countries when it becomes convenient to do so. Germany stands out as a particularly blatant victim (sucker) in this regard, especially considering the NordStream pipelines. The sooner EU countries pull out of NATO, the sooner their situations will improve. I think that is finally starting to dawn on some of them.

    • WillD
      February 18, 2023 at 21:24

      What IS clear to me, is that the US makes it ‘worthwhile’ in various forms for its vassal states, and the leaders of those states. In other words, bribery and corruption, as well as the usual tactics of indoctrination, misinformation, scaremongering, and so on. It makes it extremely difficult for countries’ leaders to resist.

      Why do you think they went after Jeremy Corbyn? Nothing to do with so-called antisemitism, that was the contrived public reason, but because he saw through the charade and refused to be recruited? He is one of the very very few parliamentarians trying to call it out as it is, and is being discredited at every turn.

      The UK is a subservient US state/colony in all but name.

  10. Pierre Clueseau
    February 17, 2023 at 23:13

    History says to read the traffic reports for when UK citizens get killed by someone driving on the wrong side of the road.

  11. Robert
    February 17, 2023 at 17:20

    Sucks to be a colony.

    • Rebecca Turner
      February 18, 2023 at 03:55

      It’s no better for the working class in a colonising nation these days. The vast inequalities of wealth and income in the USA result in shrinking lifespans, an expensive but deeply ineffective private healthcare system, dreadful educational standards for most… but lots spent on the sacred military industrial complex.

  12. Valerie
    February 17, 2023 at 16:32

    On this website it shows where the US bases are. According to the information there are 3 air force bases in the UK:


    (And we all know why they are there and everywhere else as well)

    • Henry Smith
      February 18, 2023 at 04:43

      There are no US bases per se. They are all colocated within UK Military bases – a base within a base. Much easier to hide away and gives an element of deniability and the appearance that the UK is actually in control – which they aren’t.
      For example: RAF Croughton is really an NSA spy post that monitors international communications traffic and collects data on UK citizens, that GCHQ cannot. It is where the CIA spy Anne Sacoolas was based before she ran down and killed the UK teenager Harry Dunn and then fled to avoid justice.
      The USA military abroad are a law unto themselves: rape, murder, assault; no problems.

      • Valerie
        February 18, 2023 at 17:40

        Here is a website with all the history of the USAF base at Fairford:


    • Dfnslblty
      February 18, 2023 at 09:21

      No, we don’t all know the reason for usa dod in UK.
      Plus, it never hurts to repeat the fearful reasons for this imperialism/violence and coercion.
      Tell us the excuses that are feed to us, and tell us the truths.

Comments are closed.