Strategic shift analysis. Burma : Strategic maritime security of Indian Ocean and Strait of Malacca. Somalia: Horn of Africa, Strait of Hormuz/Suez Canal security/ offshore hydrocarbons and control of ocean bound oil tankers. Libya: Oil , future formation of Mediterranean Union eventually linked to European Union.
Britain will announce it is has agreed closer military co-operation with Libya, as well as establishing new defence links to Somalia and Burma, as the armed forces begin a significant shift in strategy.
The hope is that fostering better relations in areas where the UK has security and business interests will head off future conflicts, prevent terrorism and give Britain a better foothold in north Africa and the Horn of Africa over the next 20 years.
The UK has agreed to help train the Libyan military, especially its navy and air force, and will also help to establish bomb disposal and defence language schools.
A new defence section is to be opened in the new British embassy in Mogadishu, and a similar office will be set up in Burma. The UK will send a defence attache to the country too.
A defence section has also just been opened in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. Ministers will explain the new “international defence engagement strategy” in a Commons statement that will outline how £6m of funding has been set aside for it.
They will emphasise that the agreements fall short of combat operations, but will focus on “those countries that are most important to our national interests”.
An MoD source said: “In addition to our own military capability it is right that we also focus resources on upstream capacity building, training and engagement to support our national interests. Closer military engagement and co-operation ahead of time can often stabilise a region and therefore reduce the need for our own direct intervention later on. Working alongside the Foreign Office we are strengthening levels of engagement in areas such as north Africa and the Horn of Africa.”
Help with counter-terrorism work, intelligence gathering and training for special forces are all part of the broader defence engagement policy, as is providing the groundwork for developing business interests.
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