The UK will contribute 40 people to the European Union Training Mission in Mali, the Defence Secretary has announced.
The objective of the EU Training Mission is to enable the Malian authorities to restore democratic order, re-establish the state’s authority and neutralise organised crime and the terrorist threat.
An infantry training team and a mortar and artillery training team will deploy to Mali to work with Malian Armed Forces personnel currently fighting violent extremists in the African country.
The UK will not be providing troops in a combat role or force protection for the mission - that role is being carried out by French and Czech personnel - but will provide 4 headquarters staff and 3 civilians under the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s ‘Preventing sexual violence initiative’ who will be responsible for human rights and gender awareness training.
Twenty-one troops from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment will carry out the infantry training and 12 personnel the mortar and artillery training.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:
British personnel will play an important role in the EU Training Mission, enabling the Malian authorities to restore order and deny a safe haven to terrorists.
This mission is a further demonstration of our commitment to tackle violent extremism and the threat that it poses to our national interests.
The EU Training Mission is being launched in Brussels today and marks a significant partnership between the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Ireland will contribute 6 infantry training personnel to augment the UK infantry training team.
Mr Hammond continued:
We welcome the Irish contribution which will help develop further working relations between our 2 countries.
Last month 2 RAF C-17 aircraft were deployed in a logistical role to support the French intervention, delivering troops and equipment, and a Sentinel aircraft has been providing intelligence and surveillance support.
And since then, as well as offering the 40 personnel confirmed by the EU mission launch today, the UK is offering up to 200 training personnel to English-speaking nations neighbouring Mali. While these negotiations are ongoing, an RAF C-17 aircraft has been used at Ghana’s request to deliver around 120 Ghanaian engineering troops to Mali to support African-led training.
An advance party of the EU Training Mission has deployed and the main contingent is due to deploy later in the spring.