Up to 2 000 personnel from the Libyan Armed Forces will be trained in the United Kingdom later this year in an effort to promote peace and stability in Libya, while Italy has agreed to train another 5 000 of the country’s military personnel.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague in a written statement to Parliament yesterday confirmed that the UK Armed Forces are to train their Libyan counterparts in basic infantry skills and leadership in order to help professionalise them.
The training will take place at a British Army site in Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced. “Members of the Libyan Armed Forces – all of whom will be vetted in advance for medical, physical and behavioural suitability – will be brought to the UK in a number of small groups for courses which are expected to last a minimum of 10 weeks. The Libyan government will pay the costs of the training,” the MoD said.
The training of Libyan Armed Forces personnel in the UK is part of a broader package of defence and security assistance developed with the US, France and Italy. This is aimed at supporting the Libyan government’s efforts to increase the effectiveness and capacity of its security and justice sector institutions, and to ensure the state’s monopoly on security.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced at last month’s G8 Summit in Northern Ireland that in total more than 7 000 members of the Libyan Armed Forces will be trained by some G8 nations.
“The government firmly believes that a stable, open and democratic Libya contributing to wider regional stability and security is in the UK’s interest,” Hague said. “That is why we are working closely with the US and other European countries to lead the broader international effort, co-ordinated by the UN Support Mission in Libya, to support Libya’s democratic transition and the Libyan authorities’ efforts to make visible improvements in public security in Libya.”
“The UK’s Armed Forces are recognised as being amongst the best in the world so it is no surprise that we are one of the countries Libya has turned to for this specialist training,” said UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond. “The UK provides world class defence training and education to many countries, creating lasting ties between our Armed Forces and enhancing their ability to work together towards regional security and stability.”
Last week during a visit to Italy, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan said that Libya will send 5 000 soldiers to Italy for training in the coming weeks, reports the FOCUS Information Agency.
He said that Libya needs help fighting illegal immigration and that Italy and the European Union need to do more to solve this problem – Italy is one of the main destinations for migrants leaving Libya. “I asked the Italian Prime Minister to cooperate with us in drawing plans for securing the borders, establishing centres for illegal immigrants and training workers and equipping them to do their job,” Zidan said.
The Libyan government is struggling to control violence in the North African country and are experiencing difficulties establishing a professional army and police. Training troops will involve disarming and integrating militias, which still exercise control over large areas of Libya.
Major Gen Yussef al-Mangoush, chief of staff in the Libyan army, resigned last month after clashes that killed 31 people when demonstrators mobbed a pro-government militia base in Benghazi, the Telegraph reports.