West Africa - SahelMissions Operations

The EUTM Mali mission, stalled…

general lecointre before addressing the press (© NGV / B2)

(BRUSSELS2) General François Lecointre made a final update to the ambassadors of the COPS, the Political and Security Committee, Tuesday morning (March 5) before flying to Bamako, this time “ finally ". " I will return here from time to time but I will be based locally “, he told a few journalists including B2. He will thus join the few hundred soldiers already deployed on the spot (85 exactly according to our information).

550 people

Force generation normally closed on Monday (March 4), even…. if all the problems are not yet completely resolved. There will thus be a little more around 550 people (i.e. a little more than what was planned): 200 trainers, (*), 200 people for logistics and medical support and 50 for the General Staff, as well as 150 soldiers for the protection force (Czechs and Spaniards initially). But the squad is not yet complete and information is still continuing, bilaterally, according to our information. Certainly the risk of the mission in Bamako is “ more limited » that a few weeks ago at the start of the mission, specifies F. Lecointre. And the stabilization of Mali is “ on the right track "says the general who is" quite confident ».

More than twenty countries will participate in the mission.

22 countries could participate in the mission (that is to say almost all countries – absence of mark: the Netherlands). Which is a record in European missions, but also a difficulty. France will provide the most personnel (207 people), Germany has resolved to exceed its figure of 40 initially indicated (71 in total), Spain is keeping its commitments (54) as is the United Kingdom. (40) with a training unit made up of both Ireland. The Czech Republic is the “good surprise” of this generation of force. The Belgians will also be there, faithful, but a little forceps all the same (25), as well as Poland (20) and the Nordic countries who made a grouped offer (approximately 15).

Variable workforce

The numbers are likely to vary regularly, as member states change positions. The time on site varies depending on the country: from 2-3 months to 6 months. And a new force generation conference will be convened before the summer, to adjust the numbers for the second part of the mandate (15 months).

Start of the mission: sequenced

The “expertise” mission has already started on site. This made it possible to trigger the IOC (Initial Operational Capability). The first training should start, for the first battalion “at the beginning of April” While the FOC (Full Operational Capability) will be initiated in mid-April upon the arrival of the last specialized trainers. The duration of the training will be 2 and a half months. She will " more or less short or long depending on the result of the first evaluations ". Then we'll give a " operational appointment, 2-3 months later » in order to verify the acquired knowledge « that the soldiers have continued the training well and have not lost their level ». this allows to " maintain attention »

NB: The Malian forces number around 10.000 men on paper, including 6.000 combatants. The European objective is “ to form half of it ". About 3000.

The Malian army: considerable needs

The needs of the Malian army are considerable. It is a very poor army, under-equipped for twenty years. An army that is currently in combat (…) but acts in a disparate way, to face combat situations. Everything has to be rebuilt. It lacks the means to plan a military operation, to manage certain aspects of it, quite simply to conduct a manoeuvre. She does not have what makes the link of authority " explains the general. “It is a question of rebuilding a bond of trust between the base and the command. The work is therefore complete. » Several needs have already been identified by the expert mission already on site: management, human resources, training, logistics management, etc. And equipment is needed. See also (separate article): Equipping the Malian army: a necessity as important as training

(*) and not 300 or 500 as some had announced 🙂

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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).