November 7, 2016
This month, the British Army and the RSLAF will be training and exercising alongside each other in Sierra Leone. This is the first time joint UK-RSLAF jungle warfare training has taken place in Sierra Leone and represents a change in the growing Defence links between the two countries. The joint exercise, taking place in the Guma Valley, will improve both militaries in parallel as they will be learning from each other and forging enduring ties.
The United Kingdom has invested heavily in this exercise. The B Squadron of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards will be here till December. The Government of Sierra Leone is supporting the exercise with troops, transport, logistics, training site security and the use of the Peace Mission Training Centre. As a result of the exercise, the RSLAF will also be left with a fully functioning refurbished Jungle Warfare School.
The United Kingdom routinely conducts a variety of exercises for its Armed Forces in challenging overseas environments to ensure that they are able to operate and be fully effective in a variety of conditions and climates. This is their first joint training exercise in Sierra Leone and it is hoped that this will provide the foundation for future joint exercises in this country.
The United Kingdom’s Armed Forces have a long history of cooperation with Sierra Leone and the RSLAF. In 2014 the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone invited the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Minister of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom to consider using Sierra Leone for overseas training exercises. Exercise GUMA SUN is the result of a maturing bilateral Defence relationship between our Nations and the first step on the path towards increased partnership in Defence.
Speaking about the exercise, the British High Commissioner, Guy Warrington said “I am delighted that the Government of Sierra Leone invited the UK Armed Forces to exercises in Sierra Leone. The United Kingdom is grateful for this opportunity and is looking forward to the experience of training and learning alongside Sierra Leone’s military. This elevates the well-established cooperation between our military forces to a new level and embodies our confidence in the defense partnership.
The UK government has been a committed partner of Sierra Leone for many years in the security sector and has invested in the professionalisation and development of Sierra Leone’s military, police and security structures. The fact that, in a fairly short time since the end of the War, Sierra Leone has become a respected provider of troops for Peace Support Operations in Africa, helping bring greater stability to Somalia, is also a development of which Sierra Leone can be proud and a sign of just how much it has developed. Our commitment remains firm and continues to deliver bespoke training to the security sector through the International Security Advisor Team (ISAT). This is in addition to the UK’s £240 million pledge to support the post-Ebola recovery priorities.