British and Sierra Leonean soldiers in joint jungle warfare training

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 November 2018:

Yesterday, president Julius Maada Bio went along to see British and Sierra Leonean troops training together at the Guma Jungle Training Ground near Freetown, where according to State House report, he was briefed by the commanding officers.

The joint forces training involves the British Second Rifles Battalion Company and the Force Reconnaissance Unit (FRU) of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.

Major Robin Whyte, the British Commanding Officer said that the exercise presented his team with the opportunity to develop their skills in jungle warfare. He said that the exercise is a unique opportunity for exchange of knowledge between The Rifles and the FRU.

The skills learnt from the exercise would be important for any future deployment of British troops, he said, and commended the government of Sierra Leone for the support given to the British throughout the training.

Training Officer of the FRU, Captain John Thomas Bangura, said the idea of FRU came at a time when the country needed a robust unit that would provide accurate and timely information in every terrain, all weather conditions and in all places.

Established on 8 December 2000, the initiative he said was approved by the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabba and the then British training team in Sierra Leone.

Captain John Thomas Bangura said that the FRU was tasked with providing a platoon and two sections for personal exercise in order to integrate with the Rifles for the successful conduct of the training.

He also said that the objective of the exercise has been fulfilled even though the training was in progress, because of the joint learning and exchange of experiences.

“Your Excellency, it may interest you to know that the FRU has its own standing operating procedures in terms of drills and tactics. These procedures have never been updated since its establishment in 2000. One of the best things that have happened in this training is the new drills and tactics we have obtained, which we are going to use to update our own system. We want to be at par with the rest of the world,” he said.

British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Guy Warrington, said he is proud of the long-standing relationship between the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) and the British Armed Forces.

He spoke about the role played by the British Armed Forces in helping to develop the RSLAF.  “The fact that we are having this military exercise today between the British Rifles and the RSLAF, shows that over the last twenty years the relationship has grown and this is the result. So, I am very proud that we can now do this together,” said Guy Warrington.

Speaking about  the British support for the training exercise, he said: “We have been providing the British troops here as part of that, but also in the long term we have been providing a lot of training to the RSLAF”.

President Bio welcomed the British troops to the country. He said that the training is hectic and requires courage and resilience. He said although difficult, the training is important, adding that for the military, the jungle is considered its home.

“This is a real jungle and I hope you have had a beautiful experience. It is great to meet you all and I hope you have mutually learnt from each other. Our guys have had the experience, you are coming into the jungle which you might find difficult but that is part of the sharing of experience”.

The training, which comprised 70 Rifles from Britain and 40 personnel from the RSLAF, is a joint exercise by the two forces with a focus on jungle skills and tactics training.

The British troops arrived in Sierra Leone on 11 November and have since been involved in various training programmes alongside the RSLAF.

They will depart for Britain on 14 December ahead of other deployments in Kenya and Afghanistan.

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