ON Friday Army Air Squadron Apache helicopters destroyed a radar installation and a military checkpoint in Libya.

Thousands of miles away in Corsham the whole operation was being co-ordinated by staff at the Global Operations Security Control Centre in Westwells Road, Neston.

The centre houses up to 600 specialists working behind the scenes to make huge military operations such as those in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq a reality. The hub of the building is its futuristic control centre.

The huge circular room has rows of operations desks facing a series of giant screens which display highly sensitive data on the whereabouts of satellites and personnel on the ground. Some of the screens were blacked out for our visit.

There is an eerie stillness about the room, even though it crackles with tension at the height of military operations.

Royal Naval Captain Chris Parsons, who is in charge of the operation, said: “It is always calm in here. You waste as much energy panicking as you do when you are thinking so we do the latter.

“At pinnacle moments in operations you might see some worried faces walking across the room, but generally we stay very calm.”

GOSCC is a 24-hours-a- day, 365-days-per-year operation and its works impinge on the daily lives of 300,000 personnel scattered across the world.

As well as military, RAF and Navy personnel, specialists from companies such as BT, Atlas and Paradigm monitor telephone lines, satellite activity in space, and a special crack team work on cyber threats.

But it is just part of the picture. MoD Corsham, at its peak later this year, will employ 2,200 people.

They will manage everything from ensuring phone lines work, to bringing an internet connection to some of the most remote parts of Afghanistan.

Head of establishment Nigel Spreadbury-Clews said: “Detecting roadside bombs is aided by the taking of photographs from an aircraft which are sent to a team of specialists with the help of communications here in Corsham. Tanks on the ground are incredible pieces of equipment but the person operating it needs to know what to shoot at and that is also something that we play a crucial role in.”

The scale of the new operation is huge. It is run by Information Systems and Services, a major division of the Defence Equipment and Support branch of the MoD. It takes up more than 45 per cent of the entire defence budget.

Also based on the site is the 2nd Signal Brigade, 10th Signal Regiment and 600 Signal Troop which makes use of a mess, gymnasium and target range.

Capt Parsons added: “This centre is unique. You will not find anything else like this in Europe or the USA.”