About 700 military personnel from the United Kingdom (British) have been on training tasks in Nigeria since 2015 as part of the collaboration between the Nigerian armed forces and the British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT).
The Minister of British Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster, disclosed this when he led a delegation to Makurdi, Benue State, in respect of the ongoing training of members of the Nigerian military from the 707 Special Brigade, Makurdi, under the Nigeria/UK partnership.
Over 28,500 Nigerian military personnel have received training and Defence education under the current programme.
According to a statement by the Press and Public Affairs Officer, British High Commission, Joe Abuku, a copy of which was made available to Saturday Tribune, the UK is behind Nigeria in the fight against terrorists.
Lancaste, according to the statement, said: “The UK stands united with Nigeria in the international fight against terror. With our world class military expertise, we are helping the Nigerian military develop the skills necessary to tackle the threat of Boko Haram.
“From expert operational guidance and medical mentoring in the North East, to counter explosive device training across the country, the UK is leading the way in its commitment to supporting a safe and stable Nigeria.
“UK shares a deep and long-standing Defence partnership with Nigeria, and over 40 UK personnel are deployed on an enduring basis in the country to coordinate training and advisory support.
“The UK is not only increasing counter-terrorism cooperation with Nigerian partners, but British military personnel are also working alongside US and German allies in a multinational effort to step up counter improvised explosive device support.
“Alongside France and the US, the UK is assisting in regional coordination and intelligence sharing arrangements between Nigeria and its neighbours, with a small number of UK personnel deployed alongside the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) headquarters in N’Djamena, Chad. The UK was one of the first donors to support the MNJTF, with £5 million to help equip the force.
“Almost 700 UK military personnel have deployed on a range of short term training tasks in support of the BMATT since early 2015, many from 7 Infantry Brigade (the famous Desert Rats), and the RAF Regiment which is helping to develop its Nigerian counterpart.
“Over 28,500 members of the Nigerian military have received UK training and Defence education in this time. The UK remains committed to strengthening its strategic partnership with Nigeria, and will continue to deliver world class training to help the Nigerian military adapt to meet the modern security challenges facing the country.”
Speaking with Saturday Tribune during the training, the Brigade Commandant, 707 Special Brigade, Makurdi, Brigadier-General Clement Apere, explained that the training was part of the partnership with the UK military to equip the Nigerian army with the necessary skills for combating terrorists.
Apere said the programme was aimed at training instructors who would thereafter train military personnel tactics on combating insurgents.
“This is a new brigade, which is unique in the Nigerian Army. It is aimed at developing the capacity of instructors. This is the second batch of the troops benefitting. The ones here are 100 men. If added to the first batch, we have 200 personnel benefitting in the capacity building.”
Also speaking, Officer Commanding, Training Team, Major Will Hong, told Saturday Tribune that the UK military was in the country to help the Nigerian army develop competent skills to tackle insurgency.