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RAF MILDENHALL, England — The British Ministry of Defence has paid more than $2 million to British citizens in the past three years for a host of claims ranging from personal injury to damage caused by low-flying aircraft of visiting forces — the majority of which are U.S. Air Force.

The MOD paid $420,000 for 48 claims filed by British citizens in fiscal 2004-2005, according to an MOD report. Of that sum, roughly $300,000 is connected to personal injuries and road traffic accidents, the report stated.

All told, in the past three years the Ministry of Defence has paid out 180 of the 252 claims filed against what it terms visiting forces, which includes troops from Holland, Belgium, Germany and the United States, according to the MOD report.

The majority of claims filed are in connection to activities by U.S. troops. Roughly 10,000 American servicemembers are stationed in the United Kingdom. The claims are adjudicated under the provisions of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Status of Forces Agreement and Section Nine of the Visiting Forces Act of 1952.

Claims filed against the U.S. Air Force are initially investigated by American officials who make a recommendation to the MOD, which determines the final resolution.

The MOD pays the claimant, and then bills the visiting forces for 75 percent of the claim.

Despite repeated requests by Stars and Stripes, the 3rd Air Force legal office, currently led by Col. Dean Rodgers, has declined to provide any documentation connected to the claims, citing the Privacy Act and client-lawyer confidentiality.

“We are not interested in placing our host government in the embarrassing situation of having to explain its position vis-a-vis our recommendations. Their decisions are their prerogative,” said a 3rd Air Force statement.

The MOD also declined to provide any specific information about the claims, including who was paid, what type of injuries or accidents occurred and why claims were denied.


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