The British Defense Secretary, Michael Fallon, has announced that U.K. military personnel are already in Tunisia, after having been deployed earlier this month, and are providing “mobile patrolling and surveillance training in Tunisia” to the 1st Brigade of the Tunisian National Army. The potential deployment of U.S. and German trainers on the Tunisia-Libya border had already been announced but there has been no public mention until now of British forces being involved in the increasingly international training operation.
In addition to the U.S., German and now British training operations on the border, there is also a joint Italian-German training operation in the process of being finalized, the only thing missing for a full cast WWII reunion is French ‘collaboration.’
The UK Defense Ministry statement said:
“A Short Term Training Team of around 20 troops deployed earlier this month to train Tunisian forces responsible for countering illegal cross-border movement from Libya.
The training, being delivered by 4th Infantry Brigade, involves both classroom and practical exercises, that will assist the Tunisians to better guard their land borders.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
‘With Daesh terrorists determined to target innocent civilians wherever they can, this training will help Tunisian forces to increase their border security. It underlines our commitment to peace and security in the region.’
‘UK personnel are training commanders in the 1st Tunisian Brigade, and the current deployment follows on from a previous tranche of border security training with the 1st Tunisian Brigade Headquarters at the end of last year.’
‘This initial training was successfully delivered and has built upon the 1st Tunisian Brigade border security capability. Both deployments point to the strengthened Defence relationship between the UK and Tunisia.'”
Defense Minister Horchani spoke at the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP) on Monday, February 15, where he argued that “The sand barrier erected by the Defense Ministry to protect our border is insufficient and should be reinforced by an electronic monitoring system, as part of an international cooperation with Germany and the United States.” Two days prior to his public testimony, Horchani had given closed door testimony to the ARP.
When on Saturday, February 7, Tunisia’s Minister of Defense Farhat Horchani visited the military buffer zone along Tunisia’s border with Libya to announce the completion of construction of a 250 km land barrier along the Libyan border. Horchani had added then that the deployment military advisers would require the signing of an agreement between Tunisia and the two countries, obtaining that agreement was the purpose of his statements to the ARP.
Germany in addition to participating with the U.S. on the installation of the electronic monitoring system on the border is also finalizing preparations for a separate joint German-Italian training operation of Tunisian security forces. That training operation, as planned, would eventually be expanded to train Libyan security forces on Tunisian soil.
Earlier in February, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Bild magazine “if its direct neighbor Libya manages to put in place a unity government one day, its security forces could also benefit from established training facilities in Tunisia,”
Earlier in February Tunisian media reported that several U.S. advisors had been seen near the Ras Jedir border crossing to inspect the facilities.
Portugal announced last week it would provide material assistance towards security on Tunisia’s Libyan border.
Originally, construction of the barrier, which runs south from the border crossing of Ras Jedir to Dhehiba, had been forecast to be a year-long project when it was begun in June of 2015 in response to the Sousse beach attack.
The Sousse attack, which killed thirty-eight foreign tourists, came only three months after the attack on the Bardo National Museum in March, both of which were carried out by Tunisians who are believed to have visited militant training camps outside the Libyan city of Sabratha.
After a suicide bomber targeted members of Tunisia’s Presidential Guard in November, killing twelve, construction on the barrier was accelerated.
Tunisian officials have expressed their belief that the explosives used in the device were similar to other explosive devices of ‘Libyan origin’ that had been seized in raids in 2015 which had thwarted planned bombings.
The Islamic State affiliated group Jund al-Khilafah which claimed responsibility for all three attacks