International Military Assistance and Training Team (IMATT)
International Operation Name: International Military Assistance and Training Team
International Mission Name: International Military Assistance and Training Team (IMATT)
Mandating Organization: United Nations
Region Name: Africa
Location: Sierra Leone
Mission Date: 7 February 2000 - Present
Mission Mandate: IMATT (SL) will assist with the transformation of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) into a self-sustaining, democratically accountable and affordable force in order that it can meet Sierra Leone's defence missions and tasks and to facilitate the phased disengagement and withdrawal of IMATT (SL).
Mission/Operation Notes: In 1991, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) began a civil war against the Government of Sierra Leone. A peace accord was signed in 1996, but fell apart in 1997. With the renewal of the civil war, West African states sent a military force to combat the RUF. The United Nations Security Council created the United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to ensure the terms of the peace agreement signed in Lome on 7 July 1999 remained in force. This included the disarmament of the RUF and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of all forces. On 7 February 2000 the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1289 that called for the Government of Sierra Leone to create a professional and accountable armed forces and national police (paragraph 20).
In April and May 2000, UN peacekeepers under UNAMSIL came under attack by rebel forces. The United Kingdom sent 1500 troops to evacuate its citizens and to support UNAMSIL. This intervention turned the tide and the rebels began to give ground and returned to the negotiation table. After the armed intervention, British troops stayed to train the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) so these forces could disarm the rebels themselves. This process in effect created a new RSLAF, as members of both the old military and the RUF would be integrated with the RUF and other rebels forming about 15 percent of the new service.
The British Army Short Term Training Team, under the name Operation Basilica (start 15 June), provided basic military training to the RSLAF and was terminated in September 2001 when it was judged that the RSLAF had sufficient trained soldiers (about 8500) to perform its tasks. At the same time, the UK organized the International Military Advisory and Training Team (IMATT), also known as the International Military Assistance Training Team, which had a much broader mandate.
IMATT's mandate is: IMATT (SL) will assist with the transformation of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) into a self-sustaining, democratically accountable and affordable force in order that it can meet Sierra Leone's defence missions and tasks and to facilitate the phased disengagement and withdrawal of IMATT (SL). What this means is that IMATT conducts a wide range of training of the RSLAF. Basic training is provided to recruits while more specialised courses in logistics, communications, command control are offered to others. IMATT's task included more than just training. There is the need to instil a professional military culture - removing links between officers and politicians - as well as instituting a system of civilian oversight of the military. The IMATT efforts are done in conjunction with the RSLAF. IMATT personnel are employed in the Ministry of Defence, RSLAF headquarters and in advisory and executive posts in sub-units.
Great Britain has provided the vast majority of personnel for IMATT. Canada has provided the next largest contingent, with Bermuda, Ghana, Jamaica, Nigeria, Senegal, the United States among the nations that have also provided personnel. The strength of IMATT peaked in September 2001 at more than 600, mainly to provide short-term training to create the basis of a professional army. The number has been decreasing since then, to about 115 in February 2006.
Canadian Forces (CF) Information (SCULPTURE)
Date: 6 November 2000 - Present
CF Mission/Operation Notes: Canada's participation in IMATT came about through a request from the United Kingdom. Approval was granted on 4 July 2000 and the operations order issued on 6 November. The first Canadian personnel left Canada on 24 November, arriving in Sierra Leone on the 26th. This group consisted of ten individuals, both officers and senior non-commissioned members.
Initially, the members were restricted to operating in the area of the Freetown peninsula; however, as the situation in Sierra Leone stabilized, the Canadians were allowed greater freedom of movement. They now operate throughout the country, performing in a variety of roles that have included helping the Sierra Leone Navy maintain its patrol boats, and providing guidance to RSLAF instructors at the Battle Schools, as well as teaching the instructors. The work with the navy has paid dividends as the Sierra Leone Navy has been able to interdict fishing vessels illegally fishing in Sierra Leone’s waters, a situation that was previously not being controlled.
Photo:MCpl Paul MacGregor Canadian Forces Combat Camera
LCol Rod Matheson, a member of International Military Advisory Training Team (IMATT), poses with recruits of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) during a visit of their camp.
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