West Africa - SahelReport

Proud to be here

Lieutenant Colonel Sanogo commanding the “Warraba” battalion (© NGV / Bruxelles2)

(BRUSSELS2) For Lieutenant-Colonel Yacouba Sanogo (*), who comes from the 35th armored regiment based in Kati, and commands the “Lions”, “it’s a great chance” to be there. “ The country needs us "But the Malian army is not really operational" We don't have enough good training and good equipment.". " Once we have both, we will be truly mobilized "and" ready to go up north to Kidal "of course" to secure the area, facilitate the return of the administration” but also where the government would like to send us ". The north, a region he already knows. “ We all have experience of the north. For ten years we have been in crisis and we have all been to the north ". The 45-year-old senior officer who is not yet comfortable in front of the media. Our interview is also part of his training. One of his mentors will come discreetly after our interview to take stock with him, remind him of the principles “ whatever the journalists' questions, you come back to your message, that's what's important, your message ».

Proud to be here

Intermediate officers do not want to respond to journalists directly, without authorization from their press service. “ I do not speak. I follow orders ". This is also learning... However, during the break, anonymously, one of these non-commissioned officers, with solid experience, almost 20 years of service, agreed to speak.

A certain habit of training for the oldest

This is not the first time that Western armies have come to train them, they have been trained by the Americans, the French… “ We've already seen some things “An old hand, he notes in passing some new features that appear in the training, such as how to search people at a checkpoint” This is a new thing ". One way of noting the developments of our armies, Afghanistan has been there (To be continued: the Afghan syndrome). In any case, he is very happy to be there, with his men, to be able to reform an army, having the feeling of belonging to an elite, which is testing. “ We are the forerunners says their leader, Lt Colonel Sanogo.

Very voluntary

This feeling is confirmed by the trainers. Malians are very willing. They want to learn. It's really a pleasure to teach them. ". Especially since we are not starting from scratch. “ They had initial education, or even supplemented by internships abroad. "And in barely a week, since their arrival, " we can feel the progress, it’s clear. “But there is however a whole series of points to be taken up, in particular group cohesion. " They are aware of it. And are very interested ". This is evidenced by the number of questions that punctuate the various workshops and exercises. To be continued…

(*) A namesake but no more with the captain author of the coup d'état.

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).