by Ryan Maass
London (UPI) Jan 10, 2017
Britain's armed forces will conduct training exercises alongside troops from the Sierra Leone for the first time, the U.K. Defense Ministry announced.
The announcement was made by British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who says the exercises highlight his country's commitment to maintaining combat readiness in addition to supporting security in Africa.
"Training with Sierra Leonean forces is just the latest example of the U.K. stepping up globally to tackle international threats that put Britain at risk," Fallon said in a press release.
Britain plans to send roughly 90 soldiers from the Queen's Dragoons Guards to participate in the exercises. Sierra Leone will commit 25 soldiers for the event. The objective for both forces is to learn to fight and survive in a jungle environment.
The country's upcoming deployment comes as U.K. warships patrol the region for terrorism and pirate-related activities. Royal Navy warships are currently scanning the area for human smugglers and arms traffickers.
"Wherever terrorism rears its ugly head, Britain will continue to back our friends as they work to defeat threats posed by these barbaric groups, including Daesh, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab," Fallon added.
Sierra Leone's military is relatively small compared to conventional Western forces, employing around 13,000 personnel. In addition to Britain, the force receives support from China, Ukraine, Belarus, and the United States.
Since the West Africa Ebola outbreak of 2014, the country's military has been mobilized to enforce quarantine zones and support emergency relief efforts.
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