Norway will contribute around 40 officers and special forces personnel and a Hercules plane for up to four weeks to train local security forces in Niger this April.
Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen (H) got approval for the mission on Friday when he briefed the extended foreign and defense committee at Parliament.
The contribution will be time-based and is about training local security forces in the Sahel region of Africa.
– “The training and mentoring of local forces (we are providing) helps strengthen the region’s ability to cope with the security challenges facing them. It is also about military training, increased knowledge of laws and human rights in a conflict situation,” says Bakke-Jensen to NTB.
He says the assignment is limited from three to four weeks in April.
“In addition, we will have some staff officers placed over a long period of time in the US-French headquarters, in order to get better insight and knowledge about the situation,” said the minister of defense.
The contribution is part of the Flintlock operation, which is a collaboration between many countries on the initiative of the United States.
“The purpose is to build up the capacity of the region, where we train national security forces to safeguard citizens’ safety. It’s like what we are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq,” says Bakke-Jensen.
He does not hide the fact that it is a risky area Norway is sending soldiers to.
“The forces we send down are well trained and equipped to do what they do,” he says.
Terror and smuggling
Bakke-Jensen says that the military contribution is part of a larger picture and a challenging situation:
– “Terrorism, organized crime and smuggling of weapons, drugs and human beings create an increasing degree of instability in the Sahel region of Africa. This development also affects security in Europe.
Training of local security forces is therefore part of a comprehensive approach. Sahel is a focus area for the government, we spend about half a billion dollars in the area. Military assistance is important in order to enable humanitarian and development assistance,” said the Minister of Defense of NTB.
Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) announced at a conference in Brussels at the end of February that Norway donated $15 million to the military force set in Sahel to fight terrorist groups and stop migration. This brings Norway’s total support for the region up to about NOK 455 million.
“A critical and constructive question about what the Norwegian military’s contribution is, of course, what kind of strengths are we building? Does international law and human rights work? The answer to that is, yes, that it is part of the training that we will be giving them. This is an important part of the capacity building we are making,” says Bakke-Jensen.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today