The German Bundeswehr (Armed Forces) and their Italian counterparts have plans to train Libyan units in Tunisia in an effort to bolster the Libyan armed forces in their fight against the Islamic State.
According documents leaked to the German publication ‘Der Speigel’ 150-200 German soldiers, with an unspecified number of Italians, would begin training Libyan forces in Tunisia in a few months. The training would take place in Tunisia because of security concerns in neighboring Libya.
The training operations would begin as soon as Government of National Accord (GNA) is recognized and a unity government established.
German forces have recent experience training Kurdish forces in Iraq and reinforced another training operation in Mali after the French redeployed forces away from Mali and closer to the Libyan border.
Martin Kobler, head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and a German, stated in the German press that “As soon as the security situation is better in the country, I can imagine that Germany will participate in the training of security officers in Libya,”
The German Defense Ministry has not denied ‘Der Speigel’s report.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had advanced the idea at the mid-December ministerial meeting in Rome. The Rome ministerial was co-chaired by United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Shortly before Kobler secured an as of yet unenforced Libyan Political Agreement late last year.
In May the European Union had advanced plans to the United Nations for an Italian led military intervention in Libya to dismantle people smuggling networks.
France’s Defense Ministry also revealed it had flown reconnaissance missions over Libya in November as the Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier was being deployed for strikes in Syria following the attacks in Paris.
If France ‘collaborated’ with the Germans in Italians in North Africa it would certainly be ‘déjà vu’, perhaps they could give Kasserine another ‘pass’.
There have been no comments as of yet from the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the leak to ‘Der Speigel’ or to the presence of a German-Italian training program on Tunisian soil.