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Armed Forces: Somalia

Volume 498: debated on Thursday 29 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces are assigned to operations (a) in and (b) related to Somalia; and whether any increase in such assignments is planned. (295174)

The UK armed forces have provided a colonel to the UN political office in Somalia. We have also provided staff officers on request for short periods of time to support the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and we provide training assistance to AMISOM forces before deployment. The UK is also carrying out training and support activity with countries in the region in order to reduce the threat of terrorist activity.

We are providing considerable support to counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. The Royal Navy is contributing two frigates and a support tanker, as well as sizeable contributions to all of the operation headquarters. Some 320 members of the armed forces are specifically engaged in countering piracy as part of the EU operation ATALANTA and NATO Operation OCEAN SHIELD. A further 560 are contributing to maritime security in the region within NATO and the combined maritime forces, including countering smuggling and piracy.

MOD is looking to enhance international operations underway in and around Somalia, and is working with our international colleagues on the best way in which we can support security sector development for the Somali Transitional Federal Government. These considerations include manpower enhancements in niche capacities where UK expertise can make a difference.