By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 4 April 2013:
Training was one of the key focuses of the UK trade event held yesterday, Wednesday, on . . .[restrict]board British warship HMS Kent, moored in Tripoli Harbour.
Eleven UK-based businesses offering security services, equipment and training to Libya were represented at the event, which was organised by the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO).
A diplomat told the Libya Herald that, in the lead-up to the event, the British Embassy had been working with Libyan officials to establish Libya’s needs. “What we understand is that Libya needs training to try and get militias off the streets,” he said, “to give them grounding and bring them into the official military structure.”
The largest training provider on board HMS Kent was Babcock International.
“We believe training is a priority for the Libyan armed forces,” Richard Galustian, Babcock’s resident representative in the country told the Libya Herald. “Babcock is the main provider of training services to the British armed forces,” he said, “and for many years it has been responsible for training every field of the Royal Navy.”
Other companies, including British Aerospace (BAE) and Thales offered support services particularly directed at Libya’s current need to secure its borders. The UK’s principal air navigation service provider NATS demonstrated its expertise and ability to advise on improving air traffic control in the country.
The ship’s captain, Commander Ben Ripley said that the the UK’s Royal Navy was already providing some training for the Libyan Navy as part of the cooperation between the two countries.
Five Libyan Navy officers received onboard training, working alongside British Naval staff during HMS Kent’s eight-day voyage from Portsmouth, in the UK, to Tripoli. “They worked and trained with us each day,” said Ripley, adding that they became firm friends and learned a lot from each other.
“They have also learned how we police our territorial waters so hopefully the Libyan Navy can learn from our experience so we can both move forward,” Ripley said.
The captain of a Libyan naval base would be visiting England in the next few weeks to look more closely at future training opportunities, Ripley added.
The Head of Media Operations for the Libyan Navy, Colonel Ayub Gacem, emphasised that such training would have “a positive role in maintaing peace and stability in the region.” [/restrict]