U.S. to train ‘thousands’ of Libyan forces

The U.S. military is to focus efforts on Libyan forces that can carry out counter-terrorism missions

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Plans to train up to 7,000 members of the Libyan security forces and special operations forces are being drawn up by the U.S. military, a senior U.S. military official said on Sunday.

Admiral William McRaven, who heads the U.S. military's Special Operations Command, said that the U.S. military will focus on forces that can carry out counter-terrorism missions.

"Suffice to say that there is going to be a kind of conventional effort, to train their conventional forces, between 5 and 7,000 conventional forces. And we have a complementary effort on the special operations side to train a certain number of their forces to do counter-terrorism," he told a defense forum in California at the weekend, according to Reuters news agency.

The news comes amid high tension in Tripoli where more than 40 people were killed and hundreds wounded when city residents rebelled against a militia.

The violence erupted on Friday when protesters, urged by local official to demonstrate peacefully against unruly militias, marched on the headquarters of a group from Misrata and were shot at from inside.

McRaven said there would be extensive vetting of Libyan personnel trained by the United States.

However, he acknowledged vetting could only do so much in Libya, where militiamen and former fighters are often employed by the government to protect ministries and government offices. Those gunmen remain loyal to their commanders or tribes and often clash in rivalries over control of territory.

"Right now as we go forward to try and find a good way to build up the Libyan security forces so they are not run by militias, we are going to have to assume some risks," McRaven told the forum late on Saturday.

"There is probably some risk that some of the people we will be training with do not have the most clean records. But at the end of the day it is the best solution we can find to train them to deal with their own problems."

(With Reuters)

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