Gloucester MP backs troops deployment to Mali
BRITISH involvement in Mali should not be seen "through the prism" of previous experience says Gloucester's MP as he backed the deployment of troops to West Africa.
Richard Graham was responding to concerns raised by a fellow Conservative MP over the risk of UK forces being drawn deeper into conflicts such as in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He pointed to the support of neighbouring countries and awareness of the dangers of "mission creep".
Mr Graham also called for the Department for International Development (DfID) to make a "wholesome contribution" to the cost of the training mission.
It came as Downing Street announced the deployment of about 330 military personnel to support the French-led mission to drive out Islamist militants.
This includes 200 soldiers sent to neighbouring African countries to help train a regional intervention force for Mali, and up to 40 military advisers to train soldiers in Mali.
There are also 70 with the RAF Sentinel surveillance aircraft, and 20 on a C17 transport plane.
But Number 10 insist British troops would not be involved in combat operations against the insurgents.
Responding to his colleague's warnings over UK troops being drawn into "ever-deepening conflicts", Mr Graham said: "He is surely right to raise the high human and financial cost of earlier interventions under the previous Government, but there is a danger of seeing everything through the prism of previous experience."
He added: "I support the Defence Secretary's commitment today to deploying considerable British military training capabilities alongside allies, with the support of neighbouring countries and with full awareness of the dangers of mission creep in Mali, for the better security of Europe."
Mr Graham asked the Secretary of State: "Does he agree, however, that training in fragile areas comes under the heading of conflict resolution and that it would, therefore, be appropriate for DfID to make a wholesome contribution to the costs of this training mission?"
Responding Mr Hammond said: "My ears are always open to any suggestion that anybody else might contribute to activity that otherwise falls on the defence budget, but as I said earlier the funding for this operation will come from the conflict pool and from pooled funds that are available for precisely this type of intervention.
"This is an arrangement that is working extremely well across Government and is one of the successes of the past couple of years."