(B2) The soldiers of the 601st special forces group are in the installation phase at the forward base of Menaka
A Czech first
For the men of this elite Czech Army unit, which bears the name of General Moravec (2), based in Prostějov (a town located between Brno and Olomouc), it's a bit of a first. They have already been deployed on several areas of tension (since the advent of the Czech Republic): during the Balkan war (IFOR, SFOR, KFOR, UNPROFOR), in Iraq (during the Gulf war or the operation Enduring Freedom) or in Afghanistan. But never in Africa in a combat position. This deployment of 60 personnel materializes a decision endorsed by the Czech parliament at the end of October (read: Takuba: the (definitive) yes of the Czechs).
A land already known
However, Mali is not unknown territory for the Czech army. Since the start of operations in 2013, elements have been deployed within the EU training mission (EUTM Mali), notably providing the 'force protection' of the camp, such as VIP escorts (Read: The Czechs make a decisive commitment to EUTM Mali et First mission in Africa for Chrudim's paratroopers). And the mission itself has been commanded for a year by a Czech general, General Ridzak (read: The Czechs will take command of the EUTM Mali mission).
An industrial presence
On the industrial side, this presence is an asset. It allows Prague to renew contacts for supply contracts, particularly in the field of training aircraft. An old Czech practice since during the period of the 'Eastern bloc', Czechoslovakia equipped several African forces (including Mali, Nigeria then Ghana, Guinea) with L29 Delfin training aircraft manufactured by Aero Vodochody. At the beginning of January 2020, Prague announced the signing of a contract for the sale of four L39 Albatros training aircraft to Senegal (read: A great opportunity according to Tomáš Kopečný).
Slower than expected deployment
Originally planned for full operational capacity, in the fall or at the end of 2020, this should not ultimately be reached in early 2021 as hoped (read: Operation Takuba is running late. 2021 rather than current 2020) but rather in mid-2021. The Swedes must also deploy in early 2021. Recruitment is underway, we say in Stockholm. The Italians are also expected. But despite a favorable decision by the Chamber of Deputies, as part of the planning of operations for 2021, it is the expectation of their exact date of arrival on the ground. At the Ministry of the Armed Forces, we are rather evasive on this subject. It would be more for the spring... at the earliest.