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Sierra Leone Army: Training Programme

Volume 621: debated on Monday 29 January 2001

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans they have for their contribution to the provision of training for the Sierra Leone Army. [HL497]

Since June 2000, British forces have provided short-term training to Sierra Leone. Some 6,500 members of the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) have been given basic infantry skills. The training programmes have gone well, with the SLA demonstrating its ability to strengthen control of government-held areas.

To consolidate the achievements to date, provide more officer/NCO and specialist training and put the SLA in a position to train itself in future, we are planning a further package of training by British teams until September. This will prepare the way for handing over to the International Military Advisory and Training Team (IMATT), announced by the Prime Minister in March 2000, which will take on the continuing training task. Some six countries, including a sizeable British contingent, are expected to be represented in the IMATT. We plan to increase the IMATT's overall size from 90 posts originally envisaged to 126. This reflects a detailed assessment of what will be required to consolidate the excellent work that British forces will have achieved through the Short Term Training Teams. We also plan to maintain an operational Headquarters in Sierra Leone for the rest of the year, and to demonstrate, through periodic exercises, the availability of the over-the-horizon rapid reaction capability. These measures will increase the cost of our training and equipment programme by some £5 million.

These further measures demonstrate the Government's continuing commitment to help the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN to restore peace and stability throughout Sierra Leone.