I spoke today (29 January 2013) on the statement on Deployment to Mali
I told the Defence Secretary:
Thirteen years ago I went to Sierra Leone with the Defence Committee and saw British troops and Gurkhas training the Sierra Leonean armed forces. I am therefore very pleased that Sierra Leone is one of the countries that is prepared to take on the African mission, but does not this raise a wider question of long-term co-operation between the European Union and the African Union to make sure that we do not have to have ad hoc intervention forces, which might take a year or maybe longer to establish, but that when necessary we can intervene to preserve democracy and defend people against extremism?
Philip Hammond replied :
The hon. Gentleman makes an extremely good point. The EU training mission in Somalia and the support arrangements for the African Union intervention in Somalia have come to work very well, but they took a while to get together at the beginning. Now we are embarking on a new activity on the other side of the continent and we are starting from scratch again. His point is well made. Is there a mechanism by which we can create some standing apparatus to ensure that when the need arises for local or regional intervention, supported by outside expertise and resources, we can provide it quickly and effectively? I am happy to pass on those thoughts to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.