In the House of Commons yesterday, the Defence Secretary answered an Urgent Question on the deployment to Mali. During the Defence Secretary’s statement, Bob sought clarification on the proposed personnel numbers and timescales involved in the deployment:
Mr Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East) (Lab): Our commitment to Mali and the region has grown considerably over the past few days. Notwithstanding the relatively positive news that is coming from the country, no one really believes that the security issues will be addressed in the short term. How long does the right hon. Gentleman envisage the deployments that he is confirming today are likely to be? The relatively small numbers that he is reporting to the House need to be supported by far larger numbers if such an operation is to be sustained. How many people overall will be necessary to sustain the commitment over time?
Mr Hammond: I do not accept the right hon. Gentleman’s last point. The numbers that we have outlined are the numbers that we envisage sustaining the Sentinel aircraft based in Dakar, Senegal—about 70 people. That is the requirement to sustain the aircraft there. We have about 20 people on the ground in Bamako. The C-17 we envisage staying for up to three months. We have not set a time limit for the surveillance capability; it will stay for as long as we can provide it without impact on other operations and as long as it is useful. The training mission has not yet been defined, so it would be premature for me to talk about a time scale, but it clearly will be a finite time scale in preparing the African Anglophone nations’ forces for deployment to Mali. (Hansard, 29 January 2013)