Britain cancels Libyan army training programme


The British government has cancelled the training of Libyan army officers and started the process of sending back more than 300 cadets who were already undergoing training at the Bassingbourn Barracks in Cambridgeshire after three of them were arrested for sexual assault offences.

According to The Guardian, the first group of 45 Libyan cadets was last week dispatched from a Royal Air Force (RAF) airbase in Oxfordshire after a hastily organised pass-out parade after completing only three months out of the planned six-month long training programme.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the remaining 250 recruits would be sent home within days after the collapse of the training programme in terms of which 2 000 Libyan soldiers would have been trained in the UK as part of the international military assistance programme aimed at bolstering the national army to ensure that stability returns to the war-torn North African country.

The programme was scrapped last month after two Libyan cadets were found guilty of raping a British man in the city of Cambridge while three others were charged with different sexual offences.

The cases followed a boot camp mutiny in September, during which a British officer was manhandled and forced to release a group of Libyan cadets who had been detained for violating the conditions of their stay in Britain.

Cameron said the British National Security Council resolved to end the training programme prematurely and send back all the Libyan cadets following several cases of ‘criminal’ indiscipline which have raised serious security concerns from within the community in Cambridge.
“What has happened at Bassingbourn in Cambridgeshire is completely unacceptable. These are criminal actions and I have asked the chief of the defence staff for a report into this. A decision was taken at the national security council, which I chaired, on 28 October to end this training altogether.”

Some of the Libyan cadets have reportedly tried to claim political asylum in Britain but Cameron said none of them would be accorded that status. He said Britain will not accept any more Libyan cadets but will find other ways of helping the government in Tripoli to ensure that it regains control of the country which is now in the midst of a bitter civil war.

The first batch of 300 Libyan soldiers arrived in Britain in June for a six-month basic military training programme provided by instructors from the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland at the Bassingbourn Barracks in Cambridgeshire. Other Libyan cadets are undergoing training in Italy, Turkey and Bulgaria under the US Army.