§ Mr. Hoon
The training is going well, and trainees completed the fourth short-term training team course on 15 December. Soldiers from 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles have now deployed to run the next course, taking over from 1st Prince of Wales Own Regiment. They will be deploying with additional trainers to conduct the continuation and refresher training that we announced in October.
In addition, we are making preparations for the short-term deployment of a surgical team to Sierra Leone to cover the possibility of a gap in medical cover due to the roulement of UN troops. We would hope to be able to continue to draw on the medical facilities provided by UNAMSIL, for whose support we are most grateful, but it is essential to ensure that emergency cover is in place. The team will be withdrawn as soon as possible once alternative arrangements are available.
Together, these deployments will mean an increase in UK forces on the ground in Sierra Leone to between 550 and 600.