British Troops To Train Mali Forces, Philip Hammond Confirms

British military advisers are to carry out infantry and artillery training for the Malian armed forces fighting Islamist extremists in the west African state, it was announced today.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed 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.

In addition, the UK is contributing four personnel to the headquarters staff and and three civilians from the Foreign Office's Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative to provide human rights and gender awareness training.

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

Mr Hammond said: "We welcome the Irish contribution which will help develop further working relations between our two countries."

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

Ministers have consistently stressed that 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, which is leading the international military intervention.