1 Battalion of Sierra Leonean peacekeepers for Somalia
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Defense and National Security, Hon. Major (Rtd) Alfred Palo Conteh, pictured, on Wednesday announced in Addis Ababa that Sierra Leone will contribute a Battalion of peacekeepers to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). He made the announcement during a Technical Consultative Meeting on AMISOM held on 17th and 18th August 2011. The objective of the meeting was to identify concrete steps that need to be taken in the coming months in order to provide AMISOM a support commensurate with the challenges at hand in Somalia. The meeting which was chaired by the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, His Excellency Mr. Ramtane Lamamra was attended by representatives of the Transitional Federal Government, troop contribution countries, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States of America) and the European Union. Palo Conteh said what is happening in Somalia is not strange to Sierra Leone because the latter went through a similar war situation for 11 years. He said during the civil war in Sierra Leone the United Nations deployed 17, 500 peacekeepers in the country stating that this is a pay back time for all that Sierra Leone benefited from the international community. “The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) is also in Sudan in a peacekeeping mission and for Somalia we are far ahead of our deployment process,” he said. The Minister also said that already a team from the RSLAF compromising of Deputy Chief of Defence Staff and Director of Peace Keeping Operations, Brigadier Samuel Williams, the AMISOM Battalion Commander designate, Colonel Mamadi Keita, Major Joseph Ben Saidu, Major Saidu Mohamed Conteh and the Deputy Commander of the International Military Assistance Training Team (IMATT), Lieutenant Colonel Shamus McNalley have left for Somalia to get first hand information about the situation on the ground and acquaint themselves with the possible challenges.