Defence Forces send team to west Africa to train troops on explosives
The Defence Forces have deployed a team of specialists to west Africa to help train troops from other countries in countering improvised explosive devices and mine awareness.
The deployment is being made under a commitment given by the Government a year ago to support the United Nations mine action service, UNMAS.
The Irish will train and educate other troop contributing countries based in Burkina Faso, which is in a region being destabilised by threats from extremist factions.
In a bid to confront the dangers, the five main regional powers, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, requested support from the wider international community to establish a 55,000-strong force that will serve initially in strife-torn Mali and tackle the threats from their base there.
An initial mobile training team of has been sent out by the Defence Forces and a review of its operation will determine the extent and size of further teams and training programmes.
Prior to the team's deployment, an Army group was sent to Burkina Faso to assessment the area and the feasibility of sending troops there.
Irish personnel have been regularly requested to take part in counter improvised explosive devices (IED) training because of their expertise, gained overseas while working overseas as peacekeepers in the world's danger zones and also in dealing with IEDS at home during the terrorist campaign waged by the Provisional IRA and breakaway groups.
Officers said last night that the experience gained in training missions in Burkina Faso and elsewhere would enhance their capabilities and improve their skills and capabilities in a specialist area.
UNMAS was established in 1997 to lead, co-ordinate and implement actions taken to mitigate the threats from mines and explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions.
Ireland's participation in Burkina Faso is part of the "Vancouver Pledges", signed last November by Minister with responsibility for defence, Paul Kehoe.