UK expertise for Malians

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BRITISH military advisers are to carry out infantry and artillery training for the Malian armed forces fighting Islamist extremists in the west African state.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed yesterday that the UK would contribute 40 personnel to a European Union training mission due to start in the spring.

Twenty-one soldiers from 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment will do the infantry training and 12 personnel will carry out mortar and artillery training.

The UK is also providing four personnel to the headquarters staff and three civilians from the Foreign Office to provide human rights training.

The team will be further augmented with a further six infantry trainers from the Republic of Ireland.

Britain is also offering up to 200 personnel to train troops from neighbouring African countries preparing to send a military stabilisation force to Mali.

British troops will not be involved in a combat role.

Force protection of the training mission in Mali will be carried out by troops from the Czech Republic and France.