Friday, February 15, 2013

British Labor Party Raises Concern Over London's Intervention in Mali

Labour Accuses Government Over Mali Conflict

The Government is not doing enough to prevent terrorism in Northern Africa, according to the shadow defence secretary

7:28am UK, Thursday 14 February 2013

The UK assists the French to move equipment to Mali

By Alistair Bunkall, Defence Correspondent

The Labour Party has accused accuse the government of failing to prevent conflict in Mali and not learning the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan in the approach to defeating terrorism in North Africa.

In a speech, the Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said Mali is a "failure in prevention and foresight" and "trainers should be sent to deter a crisis rather than in response to it".

The final details of the EU Training Force, to which the UK is expected to commit around 20 soldiers, is still being agreed on by European politicians.

The issue of which country will provide force protection has been a sticking point.

The UK government, aware that it would be accused of putting combat boots on the ground if it agreed to provide such a capability, has dug its heels in.

However, an announcement is expected in the next few days, possibly early next week.

Additionally a similar African-led training mission, which will also include British troops, is nearing approval.

Mr Murphy cited what he described as the controversies of Afghanistan and Iraq to make the point that the UK has a responsibility to provide security beyond its borders.

The speech suggested that Britain "should be haunted by the isolationist reticence of Douglas Hurd over Bosnia and the tragedy we witnessed in Rwanda".

He put forward the case for "adaptable armed forces, highly trained and culturally aware, (that) would proactively engage with fragile nations, potentially longer-term, with a focus on training and combat-prevention.

"The principle would be to invest early, making substantial intervention less likely and in the event of escalation success more likely, as well as improving post-conflict planning."
The heart of his argument was a recommendation that British and NATO Forces should receive better cultural and language training and develop humanitarian skills.

Mr Murphy suggested that the widely admired Sandhurst Officers Training Academy be replicated abroad in countries that need it.

Equally there should be more places for future military leaders from at-risk developing nations at Sandhurst, Cranwell and Dartmouth.

As the Afghan conflict comes to an end in 2014, local soldiers will assume an increasingly frontline role in the war.

The next deployment of British forces, due to go to Afghanistan in April, will support, mentor and advise their Afghan colleagues rather than lead them.

Their development is key to the future security and prosperity of Afghanistan.

It is expected some ISAF troops, mainly American, will remain in the country post-2014, but exact figures have yet to be decided and Washington and Kabul negotiate the terms of that operation.

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