A team of soldiers from Northern Ireland are about to deploy to the Republic of Malawi in south east Africa to lead on training ahead of a major peace-keeping deployment of international troops into the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The troops – drawn from 1 Scots based at Palace Barracks in Holywood and 2 Rifles based at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn will be working will be drawing on recent experience in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq to help prepare soldiers of the Malawi Defence Force who will take control of a large swathe of the Congo where the UN has sanctioned offensive operations to dislodge Rwandan rebel forces operating in the eastern provinces.
The Northern Ireland based team is deploying under the wing of 38 (Irish) Brigade which has been tasked with focusing on much of southern Africa as well as other operational areas worldwide.
The troops will spend two months in Africa preparing the Malawian forces who will become a major part of a battle group faced with limiting the growth and foothold of rebels in Congo who have been actively recruiting new fighters and who refused to meet a UN deadline earlier this month to surrender and disarm. Major Alasdair Hempenstall of 1 Scots doesn’t underestimate the task. “We will be working in difficult terrain and to a tight schedule with a vast amount of operational expertise to pass over,” he said. “The Malawian soldiers are well organised and highly trained and keen to play their role in bringing peace across the Democratic Republic of Congo. And of course, we are building on long links given that they were formed on independence in 1964 from the King’s African Rifles who fought in World War Two.”