Nearly 300 members of the Libyan Army have returned home after successfully completing a commando training course in Turkey as part of an international military programme to train more than 15 000 Libyan troops over the next decade.
In terms of agreements signed between the Libyan government and partner nations, the troops will be trained in Turkey, Italy, France and the United Kingdom and by the US Army at selected military bases in Bulgaria.
The Libyan Herald quoted Turkish embassy official Tufan Hobek as saying only 300 soldiers from an initial group of 440 soldiers who were recruited in Libya last year completed the gruelling training programme at a Turkish military academy near the city of Isparta.
“One of the reasons for this was that some recruits found the training too challenging,” Hobek said. He said the graduates, who had prior military training in Libya, were taken through drills which included further lessons in martial arts, operational drills and lessons in moral and religious guidance, national and cultural awareness.
Hobek said a second batch of Libyan Army personnel which includes 51 military cadets drawn from all army and air force units will leave for training at Turkish army schools in the capital Ankara and the commando academy near the city of Isparta. Libyan Army officials said another batch of recruits will leave for training at a British military academy this month.
According to Hobek, the Turkish government has plans to help the Libyan government set up a military academy for the in-country training of special forces in the Libyan town of Tajoura and may establish a military hospital in Tripoli if the two governments agree on terms.
Turkey is expected to train more than 3 000 selected Libyan Army personnel in the near future. The return of the first Turkish-trained group coincided with the arrival of two of an expected 11 members of the US Army delegation in Tripoli to help the government with logistics and the vetting of recruits for the upcoming US-run special forces training programme set to begin in Bulgaria in July.
In terms of an agreement signed last year with former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, the US Army will train up to 8 000 Libyan soldiers as part of the international effort to rebuild the nation’s military, which collapsed during the 2011 civil war.
Like the programme offered in Turkey, the US training programme in Bulgaria will be run by up to 300 US instructors and will accommodate small groups enrolled on a rotational basis over an undisclosed number of years.
The security situation inside Libya has deteriorated seriously over the past six months with a surge in extra-judicial killings through bombings and assassinations targeting foreign embassies and staff, former and serving members of the security forces, government officials.
Last month, the government appealed once more for international support in securing and stabilising the country following a car bomb which killed several military cadets in Benghazi. Justice minister Salah Marghani called on the international community to intervene and stop the killing of Libyans and foreigners.
“The country has no army and no police force. Libyans must decide if they want a state or they want warlords. What is going on in Benghazi and Derna is terrorism and we must declare a state of emergency in Benghazi and fight back.
“Asking for international assistance in this fight is not a violation of Libyan sovereignty. What violates our sovereignty is the killing of these youth in cold blood. What is needed is to arrest them and bring to justice and the government cannot do that because these criminals are fully armed,” Marghani said.
In its latest assessment of security assistance programmes and the general security situation in Libya, the European Union said its border security programme in Libya has started delivering results despite the fact that the situation remains very unstable.
“In the field of security, the priorities remain (i) ensuring law and order through professional law enforcement agents, (ii) establishing a national security architecture, (iii) the establishment of state security institutions and forces, including political engagement with the ex-fighters (iv) border control and management, (v) arms control (arms and ammunitions decommission), (vi) countering terrorism, human trafficking, smuggling and organized crime,” the EU said.