The United Kingdom will continue to stand by Nigeria to defeat the Boko Haram terrorist group, the British Armed Forces Minister, Mark Lancaster, has said.
Lancaster gave the assurance after visiting many military formations in the Northeast, where the UK military experts are providing specialised training for the Nigerian military in the counter insurgency campaign.
The minister also met with those delivering expert training to the Nigerian Armed Forces through the resident British Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT), and the UK personnel in the Liaison and Support Team (LST) based in the North East of the country. The LST provides non-lethal operational advice and guidance to the Nigerian Armed Forces as they tackle the terror threat of Boko Haram.
During a visit to Makurdi (Benue State) and Kaduna State, the Minister spoke to Nigerian troops receiving training from UK personnel.
Throughout the week, the Minister visited various Nigerian defence institutions currently receiving military support from UK training packages, and met with senior Nigerian military officials in Abuja to discuss how the UK and Nigeria can continue to work together to meet the complex challenges facing the country.
Lancaster said: "The UK stands united with Nigeria in the international fight against terror. With our world class military expertise, we are helping the Nigerian military develop the skills necessary to tackle the threat of Boko Haram.
"From expert operational guidance and medical mentoring in the North East, to counter explosive device training across the country, the UK is leading the way in its commitment to supporting a safe and stable Nigeria."
Since the UK started supporting the Nigerian armed forces in the counter-terrorism campaign, courses and training packages delivered to date have covered topics including infantry skills and tactics, response to terrorist attacks, bomb scene management and airfield defence, operational planning and leadership, enabling the Nigerian military to tackle terrorist threats more effectively and better defend the provision of humanitarian relief.
Nigeria is a key partner for the UK in West Africa and the UK shares a deep and long-standing Defence partnership with Nigeria, and over 40 UK personnel are deployed on an enduring basis in country to coordinate training and advisory support.
Vanguard learnt that the UK is not only increasing counter-terrorism cooperation with Nigerian partners, but British military personnel are also working alongside US and German allies in a multinational effort to step up counter improvised explosive device support.
Alongside France and the US, the UK is assisting in regional coordination and intelligence sharing arrangements between Nigeria and its neighbours, with a small number of UK personnel deployed alongside the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) headquarters in N'Djamena, Chad. The UK was one of the first donors to support the MNJTF, with £5 million to help equip the force.
It will be recalled that almost 700 UK military personnel have deployed on a range of short term training tasks in support of the BMATT since early 2015, many from 7 Infantry Brigade (the famous Desert Rats), and the RAF Regiment which is helping to develop its Nigerian counterpart.
In the same vein, over 28,500 members of the Nigerian military have received UK training and Defence education in this time.
The UK says it is committed to strengthening its strategic partnership with Nigeria, and will continue to deliver world class training to help the Nigerian military adapt to meet the modern security challenges facing the country.