President Julius Maada Bio has paid a brief visit to the Guma Jungle Training Ground near Freetown where he received an update on the ongoing joint forces training by The Second Rifles Battalion Company in Britain and the Force Reconnaissance Unit (FRU) of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.
Officer Commanding, Major Robin Whyte, said the exercise presented his team with the experience to own their level of skills for the challenges in the jungle. He disclosed that the exercise provided the unique opportunity for exchange of knowledge between The Rifles and the FRU. He maintained that the skills learnt from the exercise would be important to them for future deployments and also commended the government of Sierra Leone for the support given to them throughout the training.
Training Officer of the FRU, Captain John Thomas Bangura, said the idea of FRU came at a time when the country needed a robust unit that would provide accurate and timely information in every terrain, all weather conditions and in all places and was approved by the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabba and the then British training team in Sierra Leone. It was established on 8 December 2000.
He said the FRU was tasked to provide the platoon and two sections for personal exercise in order to integrate with their partners and the Rifles for the successful conduct of the training.
Captain Bangura also said that the integral objective of the entire exercise had been fulfilled even though the training was in progress because they had had mutual learning during the shortest period.
“Your Excellency, it may interest you to know that the FRU has its own standing operating procedures in terms of drills and tactics. These procedures have never been updated since its establishment in 2000. One of the best things that have happened in this training is the new drills and tactics we have obtained,which we are going to use to update our own system so that they can be up to date. We want to be at par with the rest of the world,” he said.
British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Guy Warrington, said he was proud of the long-standing relationship between the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces(RSLAF) and the British Armed Forces that had gone on for twenty years. He disclosed that the British Armed Forces helped in building up the RSLAF, adding that he was happy that the two forces were now on the same level.
He said: “The fact that we are having this military exercise today between the British Rifles and the RSLAF shows that over twenty years the relationship has grown and this is the result. So, I am very proud that we can now do this together”.
On the area of British support to the training exercise, he said: “We have been providing the British troops here as part of that but also in the long term we have been providing a lot of training to the RSLAF”.
On his part, President Bio welcomed the British troops to the country. He said the training was a hectic one that required courage and resilience. He said although difficult the training was an important one, adding that as for the military, the jungle was considered home.
He mentioned that: “This is a real jungle and I hope you have had a beautiful experience. It is great to meet you all and I hope you have mutually learnt from each other. Our guys have had the experience, you are coming into the jungle which you might find difficult but that is part of the sharing of experience”.
The training, which comprised 70 Rifles from Britain and 40 personnel from the RSLAF, is a joint exercise by the two forces with the focus being on jungle skills and tactics. The British troops came into the country on 11 November and have since been involved in different kinds of training alongside the RSLAF. The team will depart for Britain on 14 December ahead of other deployments in Kenya and Afghanistan.