News BlogAfrica SahelMissions Operations

The Takuba Task Force is slowly gaining momentum. One by one European countries join the anti-terrorist coalition (v2)

(B2) The Takuba task force is growing. New countries will join the system in 2022. They will strengthen the military means already present in the Sahel.

(photo: EMA / DICOD)

A slow European accession

Even if at the French general staff we love the fantastic progress figures, 6 countries in April 2021, 8 two months later and 10 in December 2021, even 13 in 2022, we must approach this reality in a slightly less romantic way .

Small count

In the April six, France (!) and Belgium must in fact be withdrawn (two or three officers on the general staff do not make a commitment). And the two additional June (Netherlands, Portugal) are also at the general staff. We are therefore still at four countries engaged on the ground! But Hungary and Denmark have promised to arrive soon: rather 2022 than 2021 for the hongrois as for the Danois ! That will be six.

Lithuanians and Romanians soon

Two other countries are in the starting blocks. Romania already gave its political agreement a few months ago. Lithuania has just completed its political validation process. The Diet validated the text on operations 2022-2023. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielus Landsbergis confirmed this on Thursday (December 16) evening. It authorizes the commitment of up to 30 soldiers, for three months, and a transport plane (based in Niger).

More arrivals to come

Discussions are still continuing with Greece (which had already promised in its time, but is slow to materialize), Poland (which would be new) and Slovakia (idem). A subject raised by the French minister with his Slovak counterpart Jaroslav Naï during his visit to Paris. And included in the bilateral conversation between President Emmanuel Macron and Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger, on the sidelines of the Visegrad meeting in Budapest; it was not entirely fortuitous, in our view. At the EMA, we therefore prefer to remain cautious, scalded by a few sensational announcements, which have sometimes taken a long time to materialize or government reshuffles which have forced us to review the beautiful plans built with hard work. " As long as they are not concretely committed... »

The eyes of Chimène from Paris to the UK

As for the British, Paris continues to hope. London has deployed military intelligence officers (the Long-Range Reconnaissance Task Group) under the flag of the blue helmets of the MINUSMA and also provides Chinook helicopters to the two operations (Barkhane and Minusma). Their commitment to Takuba could be " an option we whisper in Paris.

Starting in diesel mode

But it is a fact. After a sluggish start – a diplomat from a committed European country spoke of a delay of about a year on the program – the list of committed countries is slowly but surely growing. The staff of the armies can therefore rejoice. " There is a real phenomenon of training of European partners, who see something interesting and innovative in it."

The Europeanization of the mission

And with a command provided on the spot by a Swedish general, the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly can rightly speak of a " Europeanization of military action in the Sahel. A fundamental point for Rue Saint-Dominique, headquarters of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. Because " in view of the evolution of the military posture in the Sahel, Takuba must play an increasing role and allow us to provide more and more credible support to the Malians ».

Big question mark on the horizon at the end of 2022 - 2023

It remains to be hoped that all those who are engaged today will remain until the end of the year 2022. And there, it is a question mark. There is one fact: the Swedes could largely pack up at the end of the first quarter of 2022 (unless an extension is decided later). And the arrival of Germans or Spaniards always seems improbable. As for the situation in the country, it remains very unstable: the possible arrival of Wagner's private Russians in Mali, like a third military coup, could change the situation. The option worked very seriously in Paris as in the countries participating in Takuba is therefore to move the nerve center of operations rather to Niger. Country more acceptable to many countries...

(Helen Chachaty & Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. Even though task force remains under the operational command of the Barkhane force (therefore under French authority).
  2. Niger would be a more politically acceptable country. Since Mali is a country at war, intervening there could pose internal political problems for some Member States.

Read also:

Paper updated on 16.12 19:30 p.m. on the validation by the Lithuanian Diet

Henry Cholous

old account of Helen Chachaty