Gen. Nicholas Houghton, left, walks with British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond in Aug. Houghton told The Times newspaper that after their Afghanistan combat role ends by January 2015, emphasis will shift to conflict prevention in Africa and the Gulf, plus east and southeast Asia. (Carl Court / AFP)
LONDON — British troops are to ramp up training missions in the world’s insurgency trouble spots after they leave Afghanistan, the head of the military said in an interview published Monday.
Gen. Nicholas Houghton told The Times newspaper that after their Afghanistan combat role ends by January 2015, emphasis will shift to conflict prevention in Africa and the Gulf, plus east and southeast Asia.
The training missions should build up capacity in the regions to quash militants and terror groups that ultimately threaten British interests, Houghton said.
“Some of this is in the whole business of upstream stabilization or conflict prevention,” said Houghton, who became chief of the defense staff in July.
Britain’s prosperity depends on “international stability and an international rules-based way of dealing between states.
“Training missions in other countries in regions which help build indigenous capacity for security within those regions and help avoid conflict ... helps to an extent in the redistribution of wealth so that those vulnerable states do not become destabilized.
“Our best interests as a nation are served by the maintenance of that stability.
“It’s a different and softer and more cunning use of military capability.”
Houghton said Africa would “certainly” be a focus for the missions.
Britain is already helping in the European Union’s training mission in Mali and has training sites in southern, western and East Africa, including in Kenya, where Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked Shebab militants attacked a shopping mall in September with the loss of at least 67 lives.
British troops are also training indigenous troops in Somalia, but “there is more that we can yet do” in the country, the general said.