Since the fall of the Gaddafi regime and the foreign military intervention in the country, the need to rebuild security through a stable and capable army in Libya has become urgent. Indeed it is becoming vital to fill Libya’s security vacuum, and efficiently fight against the country’s growing chaos, the militia violence, and al Qaida.
Many countries and private entities are interested in benefitting from the risky endeavour of training the Libyan armed forces, and expanding their influence within the resource rich country. Through different partnerships with different countries, Libya is starting to enhance its army capacity through training and mentoring arrangements on several fronts:
The European Union is focusing on training Border Guards and the Coast Guard under a border mission called Eubam (EU Border Assistance Mission). According to the mission’s blueprint, the EU objective is to take Border and Coast Guard “battalions” out of the field, train them in secure locations, and “redeploy” them into action. Eubam’s 111 personnel will be unarmed (albeit heavily guarded by private contractors) and many of them will have civilian backgrounds in EU police and customs. But the EU document notes that Eubam should also recruit people with “military expertise” to “provide specialist skills.”
After cancelling an October tender to secure Eubam training, the European Union (EU) launched one-on-one negotiations with bidders, including Argus Security Projects. To date, 40 Eubam personnel that are already present in Libya are protected by Argus, which also secures the European official representation office in Tripoli.
Italy, as Libya’s former colonial power, still remains a major interlocutor and donor in Libya, as far as energy and security issues are concerned. As reported by EUobserver and according to the Eubam paper, it seems that Italy set aside at least 250 million euros for Libya for 2012 and 2013, the vast majority of which is being spent on security projects, run by Italy’s defence and interior ministries, including:
• Training 60 Libyan border guard officers in Vicenza, Italy
• Teaching 65 Libyan infantrymen at Italy’s Army Infantry School in Cesano
• Training 280 Libyan military police in Tripoli
• Teaching another 150 civilian police in using anti-drug sniffer dogs and in forensic crime scene investigation.
Rome is also sending a naval boat to Libyan waters to stop “weapons smuggling,” restoring seven Libyan naval vessels and donating 20 VBL Puma armoured vehicles. In addition, two Technical Agreements aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation between Rome and Tripoli were signed. One of these agreements concerns the employment of Italian remotely piloted aircraft to support Libyan authorities in border control activities in southern Libya. Moreover, as reported by Reuters, Libya is going to build a satellite surveillance system with Italian expertise to help secure its borders to stem the flow of Islamist militants and illegal immigrants. Another agreement on training Libyan personnel has also been signed, and will be implemented either in Libya or in Italy, in order to improve common security.
France has already agreed to train 1 000 Libyan police in counter-terrorism and plans to train another 1 500, Foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on the sidelines of a regional border security conference in the Moroccan capital Rabat, as reported Reuters. In addition, still according to EUObserver, France is currently training 75 bodyguards to protect Libyan VIPs, 30 Libyan airmen, 20 naval officers as well as 72 naval divers. These training sessions have been delivered partly by DCI AIRCO and NAVFCO since early 2013.
The United Kingdom is also very keen to enhance the Libyan Army’s capabilities. The Foreign Office acknowledges that the British Army is training 2 000 Libyan soldiers in basic infantry skills. Furthermore, according to an undisclosed source close to the security services, the British are currently conducting training Libyan intelligence agents in a secret location somewhere in Scotland…. Meanwhile, London has appointed a “Defence Assistance Team” within the Libyan Ministry of Defence, plus a “strategic adviser” to the Ministry of the Interior.
Germany is helping to prevent nuclear fuel in Libya’s Tadjoura research centre from getting into the wrong hands. It is also spending 600 000 euros on “disposal of chemical weapons” and 800 000 euros on securing Libya’s stocks of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
The US and some of its allies in the region – including Jordan, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates – are also working on a big scale. According to EUobserver and Commentary Magazine, Washington is going to train between 5 000 and 8 000 Libyan soldiers and a separate, smaller unit for specialized counterterrorism missions – potentially in Bulgaria, as reported by The Complex. The US has already launched a $20 million programme on “justice sector reform, arms control and land border security,” which involves “contracted personnel” from private security firms in Libya and US personnel in “neighbouring countries,” such as Morocco.
A group of 220 Libyan soldiers recently flew to Turkey to start three and half months of military training. The soldiers are the first group of a total of 3 000 troops who will be trained at the Egirdir Commando School, as part of an agreement between the two countries.
Denmark, Greece, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain are also about to implement military training or assistance projects, although on a smaller scale. According to a recent statement from Libya’s oil ministry, the country is currently producing just 700 000 barrels a day, but could quickly get back to pre-war levels of 1.4 million barrels if things go well.
EU and US oil contracts aside, Libya may soon have a lot of money to spend on security equipment, public infrastructure and military hardware. It is therefore urgent to provide a stable environment necessary to achieve this kind of bright future… The bees are therefore flying around the Honey pot…
Written by ADIT – The Bulletin and republished with permission.