UK Defence Minister visits BATUK and meets Kenyan counterpart during East African tour

Milton Keynes' MP Mark Lancaster meets members of 170 Engineer Group drilling water boreholes at Archers Post. Photo: Twitter/MarkLancasterMK

Last week, UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster, visited the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) at Archers Post during a series of stops across East Africa.

He met exercising troops from The Royal Engineers and saw one of BATUK’S longest running Community Engagement projects at a local Children’s Shelter.

Mark Lancaster at BATUK
Milton Keynes’ MP Mark Lancaster checks out the work of the Royal Engineers and BATUK helping to renovate a local children’s shelter. Photo: Facebook/BATUKOfficial

BATUK personnel have helped renovate the accomodation buildings and begun the preparation work to build a new football pitch.

During his visit to Kenya, Mr Lancaster also met with Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Amb. Raychelle Omamo on Monday (9 April).

They discussed the strength of the UK Kenya defence relationship, including UK training and support for Kenyan troops in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISON).

Mark Lancaster with CS Raychelle Omamo
Mark Lancaster with CS Raychelle Omamo. Photo: Twitter/UKinKenya

While in East Africa, the British MP visited both Rwanda and Somalia.

In Rwanda, he met with President Paul Kagame where issued discussed included UK aid which has helped life nearly two million Rwandans out of poverty since 2005.

Mark Lancaster meets Paul Kagame
Mark Lancaster meets Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Photo: Twitter/pmahirwe

He also held a meeting with Rwandan Minister of Defence James Kabarebe to discuss ways of deepening defence cooperation between the two countries.

Mark Lancaster in Rwanda
Mark Lancaster meets Rwandan Minister of Defence James Kabarebe. Photo: Twitter/RCyusa

In a packed few days, the British MP visited Mogadishu where he reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to supporting the Somali security sector, AMISOM and international efforts to deliver the comprehensive approach to security and transition planning.

Mark Lancaster in Somalia
Mark Lancaster meets UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somaliam Michael Keating. The pair discussed the Somali security transition plan, UK military support to Somalia including through the UN. Photo: Twitter/SRSGKeating

During his time in Somalian capital, Mr Lancaster also held talks with the Head of AMISOM Somalia Amb. Madeira and Force Commander Lt. General Owoyesigire.

He highlighted the important role AMISOM continues to play in helping Somalia take responsibility for its security and reiterated UK support to AMISOM and Troop Contributing Countries (TCC).

Mark Lancaster in Somalia
Mark Lancaster meets Commander Lt. General Owoyesigire. Photo: Twitter/UKinSomalia

He also saw British Army troops currently deployed in Somalia, who are working with the United Nations on a training mission.

In addition, the defence minister met with the Somali National Army Sector Commander from Baidoa, General Yarrow, along with the British trainers and Somali Army trainees. The UK is providing support the Somali National Army in South West State.

Other meetings included Somali National Security Advisor Abdisaid Ali, who Mr Lancaster congratulated on the progress made in developing a comprehensive Transition Plan. The UK has welcomed efforts to implement security sector reform to enable Somalia to provide security for their people.

Before returning to the UK, the defence minister visited 21 Engineer Regiment who are delivering engineer support to the UN Peacekeeping mission in Malakal, as part of Operation Trenton in South Sudan.

Mark Lancaster in South Sudan
Mark Lancaster with UN peacekeepers from the UK on Op Trenton in South Sudan. Photo: Twitter/MarkLancasterMK

They are being supported by army reserved from 75 Engineer Regiment.

Also supporting the UN mission in South Sudan are the Royal Navy medical team who are delivering a field hospital based in Bentiu who are doing exceptional work in very challenging conditions.

Mark Lancaster in South Sudan
Mark Lancaster with the Royal Navy medical team in South Sudan. Photo: Twitter/MarkLancasterMK

Mark himself has experience of the armed forces having served on a gap year commission in the army between 1988 and 1990.

Leave a Reply