Five Irish soldiers will be hand-picked in the coming weeks to train up troops for reputedly the most dangerous country in the world, it was revealed today.
The European Union has requested a team from the Defence Forces to help establish proper armed forces in Somalia in an attempt to bring some stability to the East African state.
The soldiers – who have yet to be formally selected – will be based in the less-deadly Uganda during a year-long mission to train around 2,000 Somali recruits.
Captain Pat O’Connor, of the Defence Forces, said the operation was part of a wider EU strategy to stabilise Somalia.
“We’ll be bringing best practice in international military training to bring up the level of training in the Somali Security Forces so that they in turn can improve security in the country,” he said.
Somalia has been without a proper central government since 1991 and has become notorious for lawlessness.
In recent years, Nato was forced to take action as Somali pirates regularly target international ships and yachts off the East African coast.
The former British protectorate and Italian colony is also notorious for Islamist warlords who have aligned themselves to al-Qaida.
The country regularly tops lists of the world’s most dangerous countries for foreign travellers and aid workers.
The EU mission to train up the armed forces in weapons handling, tactics and leadership is designed to empower a fledgling transitional federal government.
The Irish soldiers will join Spanish and Maltese forces in training non-commissioned officers – mostly corporals and sergeants.
The training will be mainly at the Bihanga training base, 210km west of the Ugandan capital Kampala, where one of the soldiers will be based at the mission’s headquarters.
They will be stationed there for six months after which they will be replaced by a fresh team of five soldiers.