Before his trip to Africa, James Cleverley, a MP and veteran officer in the British armed forces expressed his commitment to helping African nations build their capabilities and receiving requests from the continent’s leadership for assistance if necessary.

In an exclusive interview with the Financial Times, the former brigadier spoke of the importance of the UK’s involvement.

“I will look with seriousness at any requests coming from African leaders, to work on capacity building and training with the British armed forces,” Cleverley said.

The MP was a commander in the Middle East and previously served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He contrasted his externally-facing mission in Africa with what he saw as the use of the military within Britain.

“If you look at what the military does internationally, it is about training, delivering capability and capacity building projects,” he said.

In the interview, Cleverley described how capacity building within armed forces is necessary to maintain a strong defence and security posture.

“Security and stability are the bedrock of economic growth and progress, and the military plays an absolutely critical role in ensuring that we maintain the conditions for prosperity and security.”

He mentioned that Britain is a credible partner during a time of regional uncertainty and that the standards and technology offered by the armed forces could be of assistance to the African nations.

“The military can put a warning shot across the bows of anyonewho threatens international peace and stability or undermines human rights,” he said.

The MP said that by working with African partners, the UK could gain a strategic advantage in security, while at the same time helping to boost the training and capabilities of local militaries.

He added that capacity building projects could help the UK to find innovative solutions to the continent’s security issues.

“The defence and security challenge facing the continent today is complex – particularly in terms of the piracy, terrorism and crime that comes along with it,” he said.

“This means that African nations must be able to build their own forces and capacity to meet the ever-evolving threat.”

The MP said he would use his trip to Africa to understand firsthand the security challenges facing the African nations. He plans to speak to those on the frontlines as well as those in government and the military.

“The African continent is full of potential and it is our duty to ensure that we help make this potential a reality,” Cleverley said.

The MP also offered a word of caution to those who may be too quick to offer assistance, saying that capacity building must be done right, and that the quality of training and support should be up to the highest standards.

“It’s easy to offer assistance but hard to deliver it,” he said.

He added that help must be given in a way that is sustainable, and that ultimate goal should be to empower African nations to help themselves.

“We should aim to be the trusted partner that can provide responsible, quality contributions to help African nations fully achieve their goals.”