Deputy Defence Minister, Joe Blell has emphatically stated that International Military Advisory Training Team (IMATT) is not a menace to progress in the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.
He was reacting to an unsigned letter purportedly written by some disgruntled members of the RSLAF which alleged, among other things, that IMATT was standing in the way of sending RSLAF personnel on international peacekeeping operations.
The letter also alleged that IMATT was opposed to sending Sierra Leonean soldiers and officers for training in China.
Speaking to journalists on Monday, Mr Blell said Sierra Leone had contributed a company of troops to the standby force of the ECOWAS peace support operation who are still awaiting deployment because of lack of logistics. “There is no deviation from that.”
On training courses in China allegedly denied Sierra Leonean military personnel by IMATT, the deputy defence minister said his ministry receives training offers from many countries including China. “Sometimes some of these countries offer us courses that are not directly related to what we are doing, and because of scarce resources we have to prioritize” he said, adding that the majority of the China offers for training had gone to the Marine Wing.
He mentioned the patrol boats donated by China, saying: “we intend to lay emphasis on sending people from the Marine Wing to China.”
He said officers had been sent by IMATT on courses to Ghana and Nigeria, adding that three senior officers were currently in Ghana.
He lamented the unavailability of finds which he said was barring the ministry from sending more personnel for overseas training. “Our second quarter allocation has still not been released” he said.
On RSLAF taking part in international peacekeeping, Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Sam Mboma said they had signed an agreement with the United Nations who he said would get to them whenever they were ready.
He said the troops would soon be marching through the streets of Freetown to bid farewell to take up their assignments abroad.