Africa

'Human Security Training' For Somalia-Bound Ugandan Troops

The Royal Marine-led training deals with human trafficking, child soldiers and sexual violence.

Members of 1 Assault Group Royal Marines have been training Ugandan soldiers to manage the 'human' element of conflict ahead of their deployment to the UN Peacekeeping Operations in Somalia.

'Human Security' is a new addition to the six-week training programme run by the 12-strong British Peace Support Team (BPST) in Sub-Saharan Africa, teaching personnel how to manage civilian-related issues.

UN representatives joined defence attachés for Somalia and Uganda in watching over the final training stage on Lake Victoria, which featured instruction on human trafficking, child soldiers and victims of sexual violence.

The training is supported by the cross-governmental ‘Conflict, Stability and Security Fund’, and also includes instruction on boat-boarding and vehicle inspection. 

'Human Security' is just one component of the six-week programme (Picture: Royal Navy).

Troops often arrive to hostile scenes before aid workers and must be just as familiar with innocent bystanders as they encountering extremist group, al-Shabaab.

Captain Isaac Vonya, Training Officer for the Ugandan 10 Marines, said: "When we work with the Royal Marines we know they have been in Afghanistan and the enemy was not so dissimilar there."

Understanding the implications of any peacekeeping intervention is paramount, according to the Defence Attaché for Mogadishu, Lieutenant Colonel Huan Davies.

He emphasised the importance of considering "women and children" caught up in conflict:

"Fundamentally, it comes back to the 'do no harm' principle."

"Everywhere we operate from there are civilians... without focusing on them when we are planning for operations it means we are going to mess up."

The Royal Navy has prepared the Ugandan Marines for encounters with fishermen, as well as foe (Picture: Royal Navy).
The Royal Navy has prepared the Ugandan Marines for encounters with fishermen, as well as foe (Picture: Royal Navy).

'Human security’ training itself addresses the role played by women, prompting a drive for militaries to recruit more females.

According to the International Peace Institute, when women participate in peace processes the resulting agreement is 35% more likely to last 15 years or more.

The Belfer Centre also associates higher gender equality with a lower risk of conflict.

Commander of the BPST, Colonel Geoffrey Minton, said African nations are "some of the best performing" in meeting UN targets for female intake: "To be fair to most of our African partners, they do a far better job at meeting the proportions of women to be integrated into to their forces than we do."

Although the African nations may be leading the tables in female inclusion, the Ugandan Marines are grateful for their expansive training under the UK-led programme.

Lance Corporal Samson Oguzu, Maritime Command Instructor for the Ugandan Marines, praised the support received by the team before intervention commences:

"We have seen the light."