Is it another Vietnam in the making - Britain to send 330 troops to Mali
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Is it another Vietnam in the making - Britain to send 330 troops to Mali

London : United Kingdom | Jan 30, 2013 at 7:30 AM PST
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The latest decision of British Prime Minister David Cameron to send 330 troops to Mali to augment the French forces in Mali in their fight against the al-Qaeda is seen by many experts and military commanders as a prelude to another conflict of the Vietnam style in Mali.

This has been reported in dailymail.co.uk of dated 30th of January 2013.

The decision of the Prime Minister was taken after top-level talks with Paris in view of the Amenas gas plant massacre in Algeria.

It seems he would discuss with Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika how to tackle the growing threat of al-Qaeda in his mission to track down the killers who are behind the massacre of six Britons.

Allaying fears of deeper involvement of Britain in the affairs of Mali, the ministers have clarified that the British troops would be positioned to train the African soldiers and provide expertise on matters relating to intelligence, surveillance and logistics.

The pulse of the leaders - Defense Secretary Philip Hammond has reiterated that Britain had no intention of getting drawn into combat but the fears remained that the UK forces could find themselves in a open-ended conflict.

In this connection, Sir Nick Harvey, former Minister of the Armed Forces has commented that the involvement of troops could rise in case the situation changed on the ground and a stage might come when they would be needed for a long time.

Incidentally, Britain had deployed troops in Afghanistan and, over the last 12-years, a total of 440 servicemen and women have lost their lives there.

To bring home the point, Frank Dobson, the ex-Labour cabinet Minister drew a parallel and has reminded that the war in Vietnam began with deployment of troops in training capacity.

The package of Britain – Brief details of the package proposed by Britain for Mali are (i) 40 military personnel to train local soldiers (ii) a contingent of 200 soldiers along with a £5million donation to help raise an African force which would be capable of fighting off the insurgents (iii) 7- RAF personnel to operate the R-1 Sentinel spy aircraft from Senegal (iv) one C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft with a contingent of 20 RAF personnel to fly French troops with supplies and equipment to Mali for a period of three months.

Britain would also allow operation of US aerial refueling tankers from bases in Britain apart from extending facilities of Merchant Navy roll-on, roll-off ferry which would facilitate movement of troops and supplies into Mali.

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prabirghose is based in Nāshik, Maharashtra, India, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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