Africa SahelMissions Operations

The first elements of the EUTM mission in Bamako

Colonel Bruno Heluin, in charge of the "Expertise" mission (9th BIMa) and Ltt Col Jamie Melville (Army Air Corps) on their arrival in Bamako (©credit: Sébastien Rieussec for EU)

(BRUSSELS2) It was on board an Italian military plane, which left Paris during the day, that the first soldiers of the Malian army's training mission reached Bamako on Friday (8 February). This "precursor" detachment is made up of about 70 people (French, Spanish, British, Romanians...). Objective: to prepare the arrival of the mission from a logistical and technical point of view (signature of contracts for premises, equipment, formalities for the arrival of equipment, etc.) and to set the terms of the "expertise" mission on the supply chain. commandment. This mission should start quickly while the "training" component is scheduled for early April. The launch of the mission was still vague this weekend, as long as all the elements of the generation of forces (in particular the Medevac dimension, medical evacuation) were not fixed. The fear, on the French side, is to also have to ensure this part if the Belgian imbroglio (between the Minister of Defense and the Prime Minister) is not resolved quickly.

Between General Lecointre and Colonel Heluin, there is an old bond. Both were actors in the takeover of the Vrbanja bridge in Sarajevo in 1995, when the blue helmets decided not to let themselves be under the fire of the Serbs; the first as captain, the second as lieutenant. And most recently, col. Heluin was General Lecointre's number 2, in the 9th BIMA (the Marine Infantry Brigade). Post he took, after having commanded for two years (2010-July 2012) the 2nd Marine Infantry Regiment (RIMA), in particular during his engagement in Afghanistan: he then commanded the battle group Richelieu, integrated into the La Fayette Brigade. Read his interview on Europe1 on his return.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).