Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The British Ministry of Defense said Friday it plans this year to double the number of Somali National Army soldiers it trains in infantry skills, and announced the 500th graduate of its training course in Somalia.
A British force of 26 is involved in training Somalia's army in marksmanship, patrolling, medical aid and techniques to counter improvised explosive devices to fight Al-Shabaab and other jihadist groups within the country.
The British Army has also provided vehicles, and barracks at the Baidoa, Somalia, training camp.
Plans call for a total of about 1,000 troops to complete the eight-week course of training.
About 700 U.S. troops are also engaged in training in Somalia, but a December directive calls for their exit and deployment to other bases in East Africa.
"This milestone shows Britain's ongoing commitment to help Somalia provide security and stability for its people, while combating terrorist groups that threaten the U.K.'s interests at home and abroad," British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said in a press release.
"[Britain] and our Armed Forces will continue to support Somalia, with plans to double the number of troops trained under this scheme in 2021," Heappey said.
In December, British Minister for Africa James Duddridge visited Mogadishu, the Somalia capital to announce funding of $2.15 million to counter roadside bomb threats, and another $4.5 million for Somali Security Forces engaged in joint operations with the African Union Mission to Somalia.
Duddridge added that Britain planned to direct $4.9 million in funding to aid victims of recent flooding in Somalia, $6.7 million in food assistance and $10.3 million for health services.