Crisis in Malta, 2 R IRISH.

Wednesday, 1 December, 1971 - Monday, 31 January, 1972

RangerCBThe 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers assumed the role of the United Kingdom's Spearhead Battalion in December 1971. Although placed on various 'notice to move' response times the Battalion was allowed to proceed on block leave over Christmas and New Year. However, there was a sudden deterioration in UK/Malta relations concerning their defence agreement when Malta's prime minister Dom Mintoff demanded an extra £9.5 million in rent for the military bases used by the UK and NATO. When the UK rebuffed his demands Mintoff approached the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi to explore Libyan financing of the island's military bases. As a result, the UK government directed their Ministry of Defence to stand up the Spearhead Battalion. 2 R IRISH were recalled from leave and operational planning was conducted down to platoon level. Eventually the crisis receded and the Battalion was stood down.