Global Policy Forum

UK Defends Military Tactics

November 16, 2000

Britain has dismissed criticism of the way it conducted a show of military strength this week in Sierra Leone, just hours after a ceasefire agreement was signed. The Ministry of Defence said the aim of the exercise was to demonstrate Britain's ability to react quickly in the country if need arose.

Britain was responding to remarks by the acting commander of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone who condemned the British action as overly aggressive.

Britain supports the elected Sierra Leone government against rebels responsible for widespread atrocities against civilians.

The UN commander, Nigerian General Mohammed Garba, said the dramatic show, which included the arrival of warships, attack helicopters and 600 marines, was in danger of making the rebels think that Britain had an aggressive agenda quite separate from that of the UN. General Garba, who controls the largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world, told the BBC that the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) had reason to fear that they were being "tricked into signing a ceasefire while there is another plan".


The general suggested that if the British really wanted to help end the decade-long Sierra Leone war they should join the UN peacekeeping force with at least a battalion of troops. British officials said the exercise had been cleared in advance with the UN mission in Sierra Leone.

The British backing of the army of the elected government is popular with most Sierra Leoneans, who are terrified of the rebels and have little faith in the UN. Britain has refused to join the UN operation, which has suffered considerable setbacks, apparently fearing a long-term commitment to a dangerous war.

More Information on Sierra Leone


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.