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davidbfpo
01-18-2013, 05:17 PM
A cautious IISS Strategic Comment, that ends:
There is no short-term fix to these problems. Mali's security forces are institutionally weak and have limited capabilities. Continuing operations in the manner France has thus far pursued will be dependent on French forces' ability to degrade the rebels' military capacity; the ability of an effective core of Mali's troops to regroup relatively quickly; the timetable to train and equip new troops in the midst of conflict; and the capacity of AFISMA military personnel to engage rebel groups alongside their Malian counterparts. Otherwise it is possible that French military operations might be of longer duration than currently envisaged. Even if AFISMA forces are able to deploy in strength, wider international involvement will likely remain vital in the areas of organisational, intelligence and logistics support, as well as financing.

Link to article:http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-comments/past-issues/volume-19-2013/january/france-in-mali-rapid-reaction/ and link to Table on French Forces deployed:http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-comments/past-issues/volume-19-2013/january/france-in-mali-rapid-reaction/table/

KingJaja
01-18-2013, 05:33 PM
Nigerian Army arrives Bamako. They seem better equipped and hopefully, better prepared than the bunch that went into Sierra Leone / Liberia.

http://beegeagle.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/290590_489949347713524_1622883741_o.jpg?w=640&h=480

http://beegeagle.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/nigerian-soldiers-arrive-airport4.jpg?w=640&h=434

Fuchs
01-18-2013, 09:19 PM
This is the land where the local Tuareg or Arab in his souped-up turbo 4x4 is king. Iyad Ag Ghali, the Tuareg leader of the Salafist Ansar Dine militia, is a master of the kind of hit-and-run guerrilla warfare that suits the desert conditions and the sheer size of territory, roughly equal to that of Spain. His mujahideen showed their verve last Sunday by capturing the small town of Diabaly, north of Mopti, with a lightening strike that originated over the border in Mauritania. This ability to crisscross borders is another important aspect of the Islamists' Houdini-esque style of combat.

Sounds like LRDG (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Range_Desert_Group) to me.

The West Saharan rebels did similar raids.

davidbfpo
01-20-2013, 11:46 AM
The Daily Telegraph has a laudatory article on the RAF C-17s supporting the French, despite the fact one broke down upon arrival in France:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/mali/9813503/Mali-conflict-how-British-forces-are-helping-France-tackle-Africas-Islamists.html

Within the article is this gem, the real heavy lift comes from private Russian / Ukrainian companies, familiar to many in "hot spots":
Last Thursday seven Antonov aircraft – one of the world’s largest transport planes – arrived crammed with weapons, ammunition and armoured vehicles

Surferbeetle
01-20-2013, 03:45 PM
Hat tip to a "lurker"

Algeria shows we need a new approach to terrorism, By Roula Khalaf, January 18, 2013 7:20 pm, Financial Times, www.ft.com


Spectacular terrorist attacks; talk of a “war on terror”; pre-emptive military action in faraway, politically unstable places. As the world watches the resurgence of jihadi activity, and in particular the unfolding of the hostage crisis at a remote gas complex in the Algerian desert, one could be forgiven for asking whether we ever truly made it out of the last decade.


The other important factor is the jihadis’ exploitation of the security vacuum in north Africa that followed the Arab uprising. Jihadis were panicked by the sight of millions of young Arabs demonstrating to the world not just that their grievances are with their own authoritarian regimes – not some foreign enemy – but also their commitment to non-violent struggle.

Sadly, extremists have found an opportunity for a comeback. Suspected terrorists who were in prison have been released. Dictatorial regimes and their all-powerful intelligence services have been replaced by weak authorities struggling to assert themselves.

KingJaja
01-20-2013, 03:46 PM
Russia to help with transport in Mali. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/20/284590/russia-to-help-transport-troops-to-mali/

How significant is that?

davidbfpo
01-20-2013, 04:39 PM
Kingjaja,

Press TV for once is catching up with it's report, Russian private aircraft have already been helping. What would be significant is if the Russian Air Force contributed heavy airlift capability.

As I posted earlier privately operated Antonov heavy lift aircraft are a regular feature in UN and non-UN expeditions - including NATO, not sure about the USA.

KingJaja
01-20-2013, 04:54 PM
This seems fairly recent:


MOSCOW, January 20 (RIA Novosti) – French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Moscow has offered its help to Paris in transporting French troops and supplies to crisis-hit Mali.
"The Russians have proposed to provide means of transport for the French," Fabius said in the interview with Europe 1 radio on Sunday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has not made official comment on the statement, which was made following Saturday’s phone conversation between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his French counterpart.
During the conversation, the sides voiced support for the UN Security Council’s resolution authorizing the deployment of an African-led international Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).
Last week France launched the deployment of 2,500 troops to Mali to help the country's army contain a sudden advance of Islamists from the Tuareg heartland in the north.
The French involvement was endorsed by the ECOWAS, a bloc comprising 15 West African countries, including Mali. The bloc called on the UN Security Council on Saturday to fast track the release of logistics and financial packages to support Africa-led Mission in Mali.

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20130120/178905852/Russia-Offers-Help-to-Transport-French-Troops-to-Mali.html

Still waiting for comments from the Russians (as to what sort of help)

Fuchs
01-20-2013, 05:29 PM
Kingjaja,

Press TV for once is catching up with it's report, Russian private aircraft have already been helping. What would be significant is if the Russian Air Force contributed heavy airlift capability.

As I posted earlier privately operated Antonov heavy lift aircraft are a regular feature in UN and non-UN expeditions - including NATO, not sure about the USA.

The USAF chartered lots of big Antonovs for air lift into AFG all while lots of Americans chastised Europeans for having insufficient logistical means for stupid wars in distant places.


Read the correct blogs and you would know (http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2008/11/usaf-air-mobility-command-124.html) :D

davidbfpo
01-20-2013, 06:06 PM
Mali has become 'Sahelistan' or is at risk of becoming so? Well if this report is accepted this is not a matter of "black or white". Sounds more like the Yemen, Pakistan and a few others places the West is entangled with. Hostages ransoms shared with the government, sorry persons in the government.

Note this is December 2012 report.


For years Malian Tuaregs have been complaining that their government was in bed with al-Qaeda, but their cries fell on deaf ears. According to numerous northern residents, AQIM fighters have been circulating openly in Tuareg towns, not for the past year, but for the past 10 years; shopping, attending weddings, and parading fully armed in the streets, in front of police stations and military barracks.

Colonel Habi ag Al Salat, a Malian army commander who defected in 2011 to join the MNLA, was one of the first to notice the Algerian fighters from the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) entering Tuareg towns of the far north such as Aguelhoc, which was under his command.

But when Habi warned his army superiors they told him to stand down and leave the men alone because they were "not enemies" of Mali. When the GSPC changed its name to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, following a pact announced by Ayman Al Zawahiri, that policy did not change.

Link:http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/2012review/2012/12/20121228102157169557.html

The conclusion, with my emphasis:
The one armed force that has both the numbers and local knowledge to credibly expel al-Qaeda from a wide swath of the Sahara and keep them out over the long term would be the region's indigenous Tuareg fighters.

But giving them a mandate to do that would mean recognising and empowering them as a force with legitimate demands, which neither Mali, nor any neighbouring country wants to do. Meanwhile the Tuaregs have a sinking feeling: The fear that they are the ones who will be killed in any coming war, in the name of fighting al-Qaeda.

Fuchs
01-20-2013, 06:47 PM
The classic Western solution to the heterogeneity of Mali and the North's opinion that it's being neglected is to apply federalism:
Some autonomy for the North, reduction of commonality to defence, borders security, tariffs, official language(s), citizenship/passports, foreign policy etc.

The North would learn that it probably hasn't been exploited; that its economy is simply unsustainable due to desertification and population growth.


This solution isn't going to work, even if national elites were willing to cede some power. The North would be too close to sovereignty and the national government would fear secession (which is apparently not what they want, although I cannot tell why).

An old European solution might be more helpful; independent cities. The pattern would be the same, except that it wouldn't be the North as a whole, but only smaller entities which would get autonomy.


Now who wants to bet against my assertion that neither will happen, that the intervention of foreigners with their uncompromising aversion against all fighters which talk a lot about Qu'ran will instead be aimed at international interests:
(1) stability of the African states overall
(2) elimination of jihadist political power / territorial control

They won't give a damn about Mali's long-term issues.

davidbfpo
01-20-2013, 11:34 PM
A veritable deluge of commentary today on Mali, plus Algeria and the effects way beyond the Sahel. Late in the day I have a couple that are worth reading.

Citing the International Crisis Group's regional analyst (Marc's colleague):
This is linked to the Libyan conflict, it's linked to the Mali conflict, it's linked to 50 years of struggle by the Tuareg, it's linked to 20 years of struggle in Algeria...A security response is at best a partial response. Until a robust political, humanitarian and economic effort is implemented, the security effort won't solve these problems,

Link:http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_15860/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=5y6vdwVX

For once, even if writing from the USA, a Mauritanian activist blogger; with a fascinating context and some stinging passages, especially on Western naivety. In summary:
Mali’s problems did not start with the fall of Libya’s Qadhafi. They started even before it gained independence from France. A diverse set of ethnic groups were forced to coexist without much thought of the immense potential for conflict caused by that arrangement. France’s 25th hour short-legged attempt at Shock and Awe, is potentially a doomed effort because it is a decade late. Relying on inept militaries, and hoping to win a guerilla warfare without a credible strategy is a defeat waiting to happen. A decade into wars of pacification, Western nations should resist the urge to fight in yet another war without fully thinking through the consequences– potentially disastrous. None of this is an argument to look the other way on the spread of Jihadism, it is a call to think, then act decisively. Too much is at stake.

One wonders if the French military and those back in Paris realise this
The skeleton of an untested idea became a doctrinal principle in France’s Operation Serval: we will stop the Jihadis, but the Africans will have to go north and defeat the enemy. The notion that an ECOWAS force with the backing of the African Union, and the necessary paperwork from the UN Security Council is a recipe for disaster. Rotten and corrupt militaries, commanded by equally corrupt leaders cannot be a credible partner once the shooting starts.

The African Union's previously over-riding principle, before Sudan's split comes back:
The other principle complicating the matter is Africa’s biggest taboo. Today, no one is willing to recognize that Mali, like many most of Africa, is an artificial construct.

Link:http://dekhnstan.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/a-disaster-50-years-in-the-making/

Firn
01-21-2013, 09:16 PM
The classic Western solution to the heterogeneity of Mali and the North's opinion that it's being neglected is to apply federalism:
Some autonomy for the North, reduction of commonality to defence, borders security, tariffs, official language(s), citizenship/passports, foreign policy etc.

The North would learn that it probably hasn't been exploited; that its economy is simply unsustainable due to desertification and population growth.


This solution isn't going to work, even if national elites were willing to cede some power. The North would be too close to sovereignty and the national government would fear secession (which is apparently not what they want, although I cannot tell why).

An old European solution might be more helpful; independent cities. The pattern would be the same, except that it wouldn't be the North as a whole, but only smaller entities which would get autonomy.


Now who wants to bet against my assertion that neither will happen, that the intervention of foreigners with their uncompromising aversion against all fighters which talk a lot about Qu'ran will instead be aimed at international interests:
(1) stability of the African states overall
(2) elimination of jihadist political power / territorial control

They won't give a damn about Mali's long-term issues.

A Divide et impera (and maybe impara :D, italian pun) autonomy should be at least feasible in theory with so many factions competing within and betwen ethnic groups.

It is difficult to compare it to European/Italian solutions but I guess that allowing those entities to relative strong financial autonomy to potentially support their autonomy in other areas might possibly work. In short they could keep a high share of their tax revenue, getting thus only indirect subventions by supporting less of the common state goods like defence etc. This would transfer a fair bit of the burden of governance to the regions, letting them the (big) chance to screw up.

Of course the chances of a success in this area are small considering the current situation, as some already wrote.

P.S: Ancora qui (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gc1v_qnk4iw), by a girl from one of the (northern) autonomous regions of Italy.

Dayuhan
01-22-2013, 12:05 AM
potentially support their autonomy in other areas might possibly work. In short they could keep a high share of their tax revenue, getting thus only indirect subventions by supporting less of the common state goods like defence etc. This would transfer a fair bit of the burden of governance to the regions, letting them the (big) chance to screw up.

I wonder how much tax revenue northern Mali generates. I suspect not much.

I get the impression that most of the countries with a substantial Tuareg population regard the Tuareg mainly at pests, and may see western assistance aimed at AQIM largely as an opportunity for a bit of pest control or pest eradication. In terms of reducing jihadi influence it might be well worth building Tuareg autonomy and self governance, and taking other steps aimed at resolving Tuareg grievances. Whether or not the governments in the region would be in any way interested in that outcome is of course a very large question.

Fuchs
01-22-2013, 12:20 AM
Aren't the Tuareg the traders, with the actual townfolk / oasis dwellers being some other tribe?
____________

Northern Mali should be mostly evacuated, just as most semi-arid regions of the world.
Making much agricultural use of semiarid regions (with livestock) merely drives desertification. Having population growth in such areas is a recipe for long-term disaster. Even monetary transfers won't change this; there's not enough water.

The populations from semi-arid regions need to unload all their growth to more inhabitable regions and this should happen peacefully, without immigrants or left-behind people trying to transform the more densely populated regions in their image.
It's sad that Mali's densely populated regions had lost the required resilience due to the coup.

Dayuhan
01-22-2013, 02:19 AM
Northern Mali should be mostly evacuated, just as most semi-arid regions of the world... The populations from semi-arid regions need to unload all their growth to more inhabitable regions and this should happen peacefully, without immigrants or left-behind people trying to transform the more densely populated regions in their image.

Wanted: Deus ex Machina. Preferably not American.


It's sad that Mali's densely populated regions had lost the required resilience due to the coup.

If they "lost the required resilience due to the coup", they probably didn't have much of it in the first place.

Fuchs
01-22-2013, 12:29 PM
This whole problem may become a cakewalk if this report is accurate:


http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.faz.net%2Faktuell%2Fpolitik%2Fa usland%2Fkrieg-in-mali-wut-auf-die-berufsrevolutionaere-12033012.html&act=url

In short: "Touareg" insurrections all follow the smae pattern of greed in mali, originate all from one settlement (or those born there), Touaregs make up 5% of the North's population only and the troublemaker clan makes up 1%, is a minority and somewhat despised even amongst other Touaregs.

The government rejected to pay them off by accepting them into the army after these mercs fled form Libya with wepaonry and they began to cause trouble.
Furthermore, the associated djihadists aren't exactlys popular (quel surprise, after they destroyed traditional holy places and graves in Timbuktu?).


It could become a cakewalk, with the French simply routing them with armoured recce units.

Fuchs
01-23-2013, 12:23 PM
French video, showing the terrain and stuff

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=V_THwmAjRyw

ganulv
01-23-2013, 03:56 PM
the troublemaker clan makes up 1%, is a minority and somewhat despised even amongst other Touaregs.
Tuareg social structure traditionally included a caste system of which the Ifoghas were the nobility. The fact that Western elites are troublemakers and somewhat despised doesn't tend to call their legitimacy into question, what's so different about these guys?

Firn
01-23-2013, 04:17 PM
I read the same article, but of course it is important to be sceptical when confronted with such facts, as it very difficult to check them. Said that I found it very hard to come up with any 'simple' guy in all the articles which had anything positive to say about the islamist forces (Yes, we have a problem with the sample selection). The bit about 11 of the 19 Northern MPs coming from the Tuareg sounds quite stark, with the central government forcing elected candidates form other ethnic groups to take the fall. I just can not believe that they make up only 5% of the population if that census in the 50s was not completely fabricated.

Overall the article fits into the picture painted earlier:

1) The rebel islamist forces are relative small but well-organized, trained and armed for Western African benchmarks.
2) The popular support for them is quite small, even in the North.
3) Most of their ressources, be it money, trained cadre, religious instruction comes from the outside, mostly from (Saudi) Arabia.

Dayuhan already mentioned the impression that the nomadic tribes in question are likely disliked by the majority of the populations in that cluster of countries. Using military force often against fellow countrymen to get money and other benefits, be it for good or bad reasons, doesn't promote much love.

ganulv
01-23-2013, 04:29 PM
Dayuhan already mentioned the impression that the nomadic tribes in question are likely disliked by the majority of the populations in that cluster of countries.
Distrust of nomads is hardly limited to either the Sahel or the current-day!

KingJaja
01-23-2013, 05:03 PM
A native talks about the situation there, very important article. I think we should read it and understand..........


Unlike some writings popping up with depressing regularity in English-language media, the current Mali crisis pre-dates Qadhafi’s demise, and even the appearance of Jihadis in the territory in 2003. In fact, Mali’s internal problems started even before it gained its independence from France. Azawadis sought desperately to have their own state when it became apparent that France was intent on abandoning the French Sudan. They latched on the mirage of the Common Organization of Saharan Regions (OCRS) created by the January 10, 1957 French law.

The OCRS covered areas in today’s Algeria, Mali, Niger, and Chad. Had it been retained, it would have been an Amazigh-majority state with considerable Arab, Songhai and Toubou pluralities. The project however had another purpose altogether: divide and conquer. it was a French ruse aimed at Algeria’s then independence rebellion led by the FLN. The idea was to keep the northern part of the territory as French, and offer the rest the option of independence.

http://dekhnstan.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/a-disaster-50-years-in-the-making/

SWJ Blog
01-24-2013, 01:01 PM
Mali Could Become the New Afghanistan, Only Worse (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/mali-could-become-the-new-afghanistan-only-worse)

Entry Excerpt:



--------
Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/mali-could-become-the-new-afghanistan-only-worse) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

M-A Lagrange
01-24-2013, 01:51 PM
Ansar Dine, the Tuareg Islamist group is now facing internal divisions. A new group has emerged from within the Ansar Dine, the Mouvement islamique de l'Azawad (MIA).
According to a communique received in France they want to fight against terrorism:
"Le MIA affirme de la manire la plus solennelle qu'il se dmarque totalement de tout groupe terroriste, condamne et rejette toute forme d'extrmisme et de terrorisme et s'engage les combattre"
The MIA declares on the most solemnel form that he is not to be assimilated with any of the other terrorist groups, condamnes and rejects all forms of extremism and terrorism and engages itself in combatting it.
Translation from myself.

You can find more info and analyse on the following link (in French but thanks to Google)
Mali : les islamistes se dechirent
http://www.lepoint.fr/monde/mali-les-islamistes-se-dechirent-24-01-2013-1619756_24.php

A new Tuareg player in the game? At least this represents a chance for Tuaregs to be able to voice their demands and be heard.

It makes long time I have not been in the Sahel and West Africa but I can say that Tuareg distrust was high 15 years ago and still was when the crisis started. But others may have fresher news.

davidbfpo
01-26-2013, 12:43 AM
A very short video clip of General Ham's speech in Washington DC:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21192517


We were focusing our training almost exclusively on tactical or technical matters...We didn't spend probably the requisite time focusing on values, ethics and a military ethos...When you put on the uniform of your nation, you accept the responsibility to defend and protect that nation, to abide by the legitimate civilian authority that has been established, to conduct yourselves according to the rule of law. We didn't do that to the degree that we needed to..

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21195371

A whole set of assumptions there, Western, not just American, about what a soldier in Mali does when he joins up. Importantly it ignores the fact a political settlement made in Mali led to thousands of Tuareg's being inducted into the national army.

As we now know most of them deserted, probably joining the rebels; citing a loyal Malian soldier:
All these were here before, working with us. But they deserted a year ago. Maj Traore said the men had apparently gone to join the forces of the MNLA, a Tuareg separatist group which launched a rebellion last year in northern Mali.....But when they came back here, we found they were with the jihadists, and they wanted to take revenge on us. They want easy money. They think the jihadists have money - that's all. It's not about Islam...

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21136663

davidbfpo
01-26-2013, 05:25 PM
The NYT reports on a divergence between the France and the USA over the objective (slightly edited):
Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defense minister, said recently “The goal is the total reconquest of Mali...We will not leave any pockets.”

But Gen. Carter F. Ham, the head of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, voiced more limited objectives. “We would all like to see the elimination of Al Qaeda and others from northern Mali....Realistically, probably the best you can get is containment and disruption so that Al Qaeda is no longer able to control territory.”

Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/world/africa/us-weighing-how-much-help-to-give-frances-military-operation-in-mali.html?_r=0

Almost reminds me of the First Indo-China War, post-1945, when France the colonial power was amply supported by the USA with money, weapons and more, although not troops. Each had quite different objectives IIRC. This time I concede France is far richer, but has some gaps in its national armoury: heavy airlift, in-flight refuelling and (airborne) intelligence gathering.

Fuchs
01-26-2013, 08:51 PM
This time I concede France is far richer, but has some gaps in its national armoury: heavy airlift, in-flight refuelling and (airborne) intelligence gathering.

Are you serious?

They beat up guys who ride technicals. Cessna 172s with hand-held cameras are high-tech aerial intelligence gathering means if compared to the threat!
Same for heavy airlift. The French can easily hire enough charter airlift, have dozens of own transport aircraft and only need to support a regiment-sized force which could largely live off the land in terms of fuel and food.
In-flight refuelling - it's obvious there's no real problem with refuelling on Algerian or other military bases.

Seriously; all the support the French are asking for from Western countries is about as serious as Turkey's request for SAM support: Nice to have, but 90% a symbolic demonstration of unity.

Bill Moore
01-27-2013, 04:30 AM
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mali-rebels-town-20130127,0,5775328.story?page=1&track=rss

Mali town recalls Islamist invaders as both terrifying and gentle

The militants' seizure of Diabaly during French airstrikes hints at their tactics: dig in among the population, use residents as a human shield, melt away.


A day later, with the rebels firmly in control, a pale green Toyota Prado arrived, carrying a high level commander. Rebels parked the four-wheel-drive vehicle under a tree and carefully coated it with red mud for camouflage.

"Six bodyguards went with him wherever he went, like a president," said neighbor Mousa Koumary, 48, who said he recognized the commander from pictures on television. It was Abou Zeid, the Algerian-born hard-line commander of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, he said.

Additional comments point to a well supplied and trained terrorist force, and I can't help but think some of this support is coming from states in the region. No doubt a lot of munitions came from Libya after the military lost control of it.


"There were whites and blacks among them," Dembele said of the militants. Residents said the men were Arabs, Algerians and Africans from Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal, and spoke the local language as well as French, English and Arabic.

The multinational coalition aspect identified above, and the routes to Europe (and beyond) are what concern me most. This is potentially a much greater threat to the West than the Afghanistan base.


The mayor of Diabaly, Oumar Diakite, said the Malian army could never control the north, with its porous borders and network of smuggling routes.

"Those routes are not under the control of the army, and these jihadist people know those routes well through Algeria and Morocco and it is easy for them to get to Europe. It's a very vast zone that the army can never control," he said.

Bill Moore
01-27-2013, 04:54 AM
Posted by Fuchs


Seriously; all the support the French are asking for from Western countries is about as serious as Turkey's request for SAM support: Nice to have, but 90% a symbolic demonstration of unity.

I think you got this one wrong, this is too big for France do do alone and they know it. Looks like we sent mixed messages to the French on our desire to support.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323301104578257943691567614.html

Mali Exposes Flaws in West's Security Plans


As the French assault gained steam in West Africa, France sought help from its allies—only to find that the U.S. and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization states either weren't ready or couldn't offer much. Canada and the U.K. quickly ponied up three cargo planes, two of which broke down en route.


Senior U.S. defense officials dispute those accounts, saying Washington's messages to France may have been "lost in translation." During the meetings, the U.S. officials said, neither Mr. Panetta nor Mr. Sheehan directly urged France to use force and didn't promise specific support.


The prospect of a new terror war in Africa would clash with a key message of President Barack Obama's inaugural address. In his Monday speech, he said a decade of military conflict was ending and that "enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war."

and of course the broke European militaries (we may be in the same boat soon)


Since the financial crisis hit in 2009, European governments have cut military spending by roughly 10% annually overall. French military spending has held up better than other countries in the bloc, declining less than 7% in total from 2009 to 2011, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

French military capabilities, however, are uneven. The country has developed advanced fighter planes. But its air refueling tankers are old and, in some cases, in disrepair, hence the request for U.S. help. Washington's reluctance has prompted the French to appeal to other allies, including the Canadians, this time for air tankers, NATO officials said.

France's airlift capacity is also severely limited.

M-A Lagrange
01-27-2013, 10:59 AM
Personnaly I have a mixed feeling about Fuch and Bill statements:



Seriously; all the support the French are asking for from Western countries is about as serious as Turkey's request for SAM support: Nice to have, but 90% a symbolic demonstration of unity.
I think you got this one wrong, this is too big for France do do alone and they know it.

First of all, on the ground the first phase of the operation is getting quite good. French just took back Gao and they continue the bombing of Ansad Dine bases.

So I do not believe it's much about "combat capacity" we are talking about here. On that particular point, the requested engagement of NATO contributing countries is quiete symbolic, as Fuch pointed.
What seems obvious is the air logistic that is the real issue, as Bill pointed out.

I tend to agree with Bill and David on the fact that this demonstrates that NATO armies are all interdependant (in a good or bad way, let you make up your mind).

On a more "grand strategy" level, what happens in Mali is a concern for all Europ countries as Sahara is the door to Europ. But it is also a concern for the US as the spread of the Islamist threat in Africa is a threat for them too. But Africa is a strategic continent for all of us, including China (and Russia in a lighter level).
To me, what would be interresting is the impact of this on the expension of China over natural ressources on the continent. Leaving the "old colonial powers" dealing with the problems will come at a cost for both West and China. Could we imagine a Chinese involvement, even symbolic, in this? Or does that significates a containment of China in its already "historical allies" (Like Sudan)?

Laeke
01-27-2013, 11:30 AM
Well I got beaten to the point by Mr Lagrange, as I wanted, in a less experty manner, to say the same thing.

I think airlift, air logistics (re-fueling & intelligence) all are appreciated and not just symbolic. My understanding was that it always was one of the weakest point in the French military chain, airlift is often strained, and the US has an obvious advantage in the field of technological air assets (satellites, drones, AWACS...). And my british bias may be showing but I am not too surprised they were among the first to lend support, albeit small.

I'm also not too surprised about the possible mixed signals from the USA. Ultimately I am sure there will be some support (if it is not already in place behind the scenes), but I understand that there is internal politics & international image issues that must be taken into account (plus the usual US-French divergence on how to handle problems).

Regarding the last post by davidbfpo, is that really a strategic divergence? I only see a difference in displayed optimism on the matter of reaching the ideal objective (elimination of all hostile, unwanted groups in the region).

My general impression is that France is looking to do what it usually does in Africa: A quick clean "heavy lifting" job, then control & contain the problem via our already long standing military presence in the region (with a force in Mali itself, to support an international mandated force and be able to cope with any real emergency).

I have read in several places that late Spring will end the war & big manoeuvers season because of the heat, so I suppose the plan is to go as far north as possible till then, then to consolidate the Mali and ECOWAS force, and use French forces either as a force multiplier or in targeted operations.


Could we imagine a Chinese involvement, even symbolic, in this?

Isn't China whole posture in those matters to condone as little as possible any sort of international intervention that would in turn weaken the concept of national sovereignty?
I guess China already feels like it has done its part by not shooting down on sight the UN resolution...

davidbfpo
01-27-2013, 12:12 PM
Behind the catchy, if ambiguous headline 'Revealed: how Saharan caravans of cocaine help to fund al-Qaeda in terrorists' North African domain' is an article that draws together the allegations over drugs, Jihadists and others:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/mali/9829099/Revealed-how-Saharan-caravans-of-cocaine-help-to-fund-al-Qaeda-in-terrorists-North-African-domain.html

Leaving the Malian aspects for a moment, what is being done about this small, coastal state:
In Guinea Bissau, for example, the cartels' limitless funds have bought up so many police, politicians and soldiers that it has been dubbed Africa's first "narco-state", with a military coup last April blamed on in-fighting over drug trade proceeds.

Citing the UNODC regional rep:
Mr Lapaque cautions that hard proof of al-Qaeda's role in the cocaine trade is, by definition, difficult to come by.

davidbfpo
01-27-2013, 12:25 PM
Corp Toure, whose unit was 10 miles from Diabaly at the time and was ordered to let the French do the fighting, said he later heard that among the Islamist guerrillas was one of his old comrades, who also had an older brother living in the village.

"The older brother asked him: 'Why did you join the militant people?'" recalled Corp Toure. "He replied: 'Because they pay well.' He said he was earning two million CFA (£2,600) a year, plus 500,000 CFA (£750) for every day spent fighting."

That might not sound much by Western standards, but Corp Toure said that even the basic pay level was double his own army income.

Yes an account based on one Malian soldier's account:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/mali/9828681/Mali-dispatch-Why-join-the-Islamists-Because-they-pay-more.html

Makes me wonder whether money would work better in reducing the rebels.

Fuchs
01-27-2013, 12:36 PM
I think you got this one wrong, this is too big for France do do alone and they know it.

You sounded serious, and this confuses me.

How could this possibly be too big for France?

It's a classic single finger sweep with the left hand for them.
Much of their ground forces are practically specialised on this sort of campaign, the French weren't even serious about readiness for intra-European-style during the Cold War. Meanwhile, they have been serious about meddling in Africa for more than a century.

Their light mechanised / 'armoured recce with big guns' forces are a clear overmatch to the few thousand opposition troops. Many of those opposition troops are deserters and will desert again. They are brittle in face of what the French are doing. The French can leave the sweeps through towns and cities to the Malian army, after all. Said army is growing in size again because deserters return - in part those very deserters who had joined the rebels earlier.
This opposition is no less susceptible to collapse than the Taliban were in 2001.
The French know there's no point in occupying, so they will almost inevitably do their usual thing - a rather short intervention followed by a trainer mission and a QRF on stand-by as fail-safe.


I've been annoyed for years by people treating European military powers (and also the U.S. military) as if combating rag tag armed groups or Third World military forces in disrepair for decades was a challenge to them.
Those people forget what real challenge, real crisis is like. Real crisis and challenge is when your army corps is fighting for survival in a intra-European style campaign, losing one or two battalion equivalents per day and reporting no smaller losses to national news than the loss of a whole regiment.

Kicking butts of loudmouths with marginal (para)military capability in distant places is not a challenge, and certainly not "too big".

Denmark cold have intervened in Mali and won quickly & decisively. It would merely have required some improvisation.


Improvisation is yet another topic which annoys me a lot. Western military bureaucracies have had so very lavish budgets for decades that they seem to have lost the mental capacity for taking into account the potential of improvisation on levels battalion and above.
The German military had no logistical means to intervene during the Boxer rebellion in China more than a century ago. So what? Passenger ships were converted to troop transports. Nobody supposed the German military was incapable or its navy should have maintained a sizeable amphibious or troops transport fleet. Budgets were tight, improvisation was sufficient.

Bill Moore
01-27-2013, 05:33 PM
Posted by Fuchs


You sounded serious, and this confuses me.

How could this possibly be too big for France?


Those people forget what real challenge, real crisis is like. Real crisis and challenge is when your army corps is fighting for survival in a intra-European style campaign, losing one or two battalion equivalents per day and reporting no smaller losses to national news than the loss of a whole regiment.

I am serious, but readily admit I may be over estimating this particular threat group. This quote from my last post does deserve serious consideration.


The mayor of Diabaly, Oumar Diakite, said the Malian army could never control the north, with its porous borders and network of smuggling routes.

"Those routes are not under the control of the army, and these jihadist people know those routes well through Algeria and Morocco and it is easy for them to get to Europe. It's a very vast zone that the army can never control," he said.

While AQIM doesn't control all the country and now controll considerably less, it is important to point out that Mali is almost twice the size of Texax (my apologies for our non-U.S. readers, it was the only relative comparison I could find). I believe it is almost twice the size of Afghanistan, but obviously the terrain difference is considerably different. Still that is a lot of territory and it won't be controlled by a small intervention force.

While the media focuses on Mali it is important to note this is a regional movement, so even if the French are successful in defeating the threat within the borders of Mali (the borders appear to be little more than legal illusion, and in practice non-existent) that doesn't address the threat to Niger, Algeria, etc.. The entire region presents a viable line of communication for the jihadists into Europe.

Now I think where we may differ and further debate is your comment about a real crisis. I'm part of the small percentage on SWJ that thinks we will future wars between states where the stakes are much higher, and the losses almost uncomprehensable compared to our current conflicts. Fortunately we can now fatten our ranks with women to throw into the slaughter mill as though that will somehow help. The last point supports yours because our politicians have forgotten how ugly war can get.

Yet that point is irrelevant to the situation in North Africa. I have no doubt the French will decisively win any significant battles they have with the Jihadists, and I suspect the Jihadists and unlike Al Qaeda and the Taliban in 2001 and 2002 they will avoid pitched battles and wage the "War of the Flea", which will require significant ground forces to counter (unless they get creative and come up with a very different approach). The Fleas are not trying to defeat the West in battle but by waging a conflict that exhausts the West politically and economically. What is the French way to victory? How do they achieve their objectives without getting drawn into a long conflict? This is something all of us have a common interest in discovering.

Fuchs
01-27-2013, 05:46 PM
Some news reports claim that the majority of the rebels already fled to the north.

I suppose the French way is to provoke exactly this, and to help the Malian army to reconquer the south.

North Mali tends to produce one revolt per decade, so there will probably be silence for years to come - and the usual suspects will understand that allying with jihadists provokes an avoidable intervention.
Next time, they will probably have learned and simply loot one or two cities, try to get some ransoms and withdraw without provoking Western crusaders and without questioning the integrity of Mali's government (which runs counter to French Africa policies).

Meanwhile, the jihadists may understand they cannot achieve anything beyond a certain threshold and will probably stay in the confines of their freedom of action; dominate most remote, economically irrelevant communities.
I doubt they're going to be any threat to 'us' there.


These northerner rebels did and do not enjoy elusiveness. They cannot hide among the people for long. Hiding against a Mirage 2000 may work, but when ground troops arrive some locals will indicate the location of the rebels.
You cannot be particularly elusive in a quite empty desert either. At most you can blend in with normal traffic and hope your enemies don't have the assets to fly along a limited quantity of routes and other spotted vehicle tracks.
The French even had Horizon (mothballed, IIRC), the British have ASTOR, the U.S. has a couple radar drones and JStars. It's basically a better exercise to keep an eye on such a desert region's traffic even without any improvisation with normal aircraft.

Laeke
01-27-2013, 06:00 PM
Indeed, France probably cannot afford to do "COIN" like the US army in Afghanistan or Iraq. We do not have the numbers to do so.

But on the other hand I do not think that France is looking to do that either, and I doubt anyone believes the deep problems of the Sahel region will be fixed with this operation. My opinion is that statu quo ante bellum and maybe start to adressing the Tuareg issue (but that is dependent on the good will of so many countries...) are the maximum we can achieve.

It is true that the already existing collaboration in the region between French/Western armies and local counterparts (Mauritania, at least. Probably Chad and Niger, I guess) against AQIM was not very effective and suffers beyond that from the position of a few key players (like Algeria).

Maybe an opportunity objective of opration Serval is to hit as hard those groups now to ease future containement. As often, war is a way to buy time for working out a more favourable political solution or preparing for the next one.

M-A Lagrange
01-27-2013, 07:13 PM
Indeed, France probably cannot afford to do "COIN" like the US army in Afghanistan or Iraq. We do not have the numbers to do so.

Well I believe that post North Mali "reconquista" will looks like Epervier in Chad, which followed for decades the Manta operation.
COIN should be the Malian government regime problem (Basically addressing the Tuareg demands in a Malaysian style). For the West the objective looks basically like preventing AQMI to threat allied regimes and controlling strategic piece of land.

Strategically, Sahara is a sea of sand cutting Africa in 2. No one is looking to control the whole area. Once major cities like Timbuktu would have been sized the objective will probably be controlling movements and identifying gathering spots. Malian government and regional countries will be left with destroying those pockets with a light support from western armies. Nothing really new and this does not require huge number of troops.

Laeke
01-27-2013, 07:38 PM
I think we are in agreement.
A limited scope means that the war aims are modest and only seek to adress the most urgent issues. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing either, a lot of recent (and not so recent) expeditionary massive engagements by Western forces not being very convincing in terms of results anyway.
Hopefully this operation will go as smoothly as usual (at least for our men in uniforms).

The big question, I suspect, is whether or not a political processus of some kind under "international" supervision (France, CEDEAO/ECOWAS, UN...) will be put in place to adress the Tuareg issue.

davidbfpo
01-27-2013, 07:57 PM
Size matters and a Google search found some help (in square kilometres):

1) Mali 1240
2) Northern Mali 827
3) Texas 692
4) Afghanistan 647
5) Iraq 438

The OECD has a short summary on Northern Mali:http://www.oecd.org/swac/northernmaliataglance.htm


If northern Mali were to become a state, it would be twice the size of Germany but with 1.6 residents per square kilometre. It would share with Mongolia the title of the country with the lowest population density in the world.

M-A Lagrange
01-29-2013, 10:50 AM
F. Holland just detailled the French approach for Mali:


Nous sommes en train de gagner cette bataille, quand je dis nous, c'est l'arme malienne, ce sont les Africains soutenus par les Franais, a-t-il dclar, alors que les armes franaise et malienne viennent de reprendre le contrle des villes stratgiques de Gao et Tombouctou.

"Maintenant, les Africains peuvent prendre le relais et ce sont eux qui iront dans la partie du Nord dont nous savons qu'elle est la plus difficile puisque des terroristes y sont cachs et qu'ils peuvent encore mener des oprations extrmement dangereuses pour les pays voisins et pour le Mali", a ajout Franois Hollande lors d'une confrence de presse l'Elyse.

"We are winning that battle, when I say us, I mean the Malian army, the Africans with the support of France, declared F. Holland as Malian and French armies just took control of the strategic cities of Gao and Timbuktu.

Now, the Africans can take the lead and that is them who will go in the northern part of Mali that we know will be the harshest one as terrorists are hidden there and still can conduct extremely dangerous operations against neighbouring countries and against Mali.Added F. Holland in a press conference at Elyse.

From Reuters (in French)
http://fr.news.yahoo.com/la-bataille-est-en-train-dtre-gagne-au-165242157.html;_ylt=AookYQIhjtfB6VL_3yQG2zn.fcl_;_ ylu=X3oDMTNsaXJoaHBtBG1pdANUb3BTdG9yeSBGUARwa2cDOG NiNmYxMWEtYzNhNy0zMjk2LWFkZTktMmM2YjZmOGRjYWNjBHBv cwM4BHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnkEdmVyAzA5ZDYwODcwLTY5NzgtMT FlMi1iZGFmLWQ5YmI0NTIwMzIyNw--;_ylg=X3oDMTFsdWZmZHBzBGludGwDZnIEbGFuZwNmci1mcgRw c3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANhY2N1ZWlsBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25z;_ylv= 3

Added

This link should work:
In French
http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/topne...e-au-mali.html

In English
http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/topne...e-au-mali.html

Fuchs
01-29-2013, 11:55 AM
Link doesn't work for me.
Related article:
http://www.rtl.fr/actualites/info/international/article/mali-hollande-nous-sommes-en-train-de-gagner-cette-bataille-7757411999

translated:
http://tinyurl.com/awjkkmg

Laeke
01-29-2013, 01:53 PM
The Guardian give details of UK involvement:

Special forces (in non combat), more reco, more advisors for Mali army formation.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jan/22/uk-special-forces-active-mali

Also in Le Monde, mentions of US drones to be based in Niger.

davidbfpo
01-30-2013, 12:43 PM
From RFI:
Members of the Malian National Assembly adopted unanimously on Tuesday 29 January, the establishment of a political roadmap for the post-war period. The Government must exercise its sovereignty over the entire national territory before we talk about elections....(Citing the Assembly majority leader)...Reconciliation is needed but can not negotiate the independence of a territory or part of secularism.

Link:http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20130129-mali-deputes-ont-vote-unanimite-feuille-route-transition

Given the state of internal politics in Mali, as illustrated by the endless negotiation over allowing ECOWAS troops to arrive and the precarious state of their own army -v- politicians - is this a good sign? Not am I sure if this means dialogue does not have a place, nor whether insurgency in the north will postpone a national election.

M-A Lagrange
01-30-2013, 03:18 PM
A simple but not too bad artile on why Kidal is important and why the French took the airport alone without Malian support in order to not spoil the coming peace process.

MALI. The issue of Kidal

What happens today to Kidal? MIA and MNLA are on site and they feared and denied the arrival of Malian troops: "Given their hatred of the Tuareg and their desire for revenge after their defeat for nearly a year, if the Malian army entered the city It would be a massacre, "said a Tuareg from Kidal.

The French quickly realized the situation. A ratonnade, even massacres in Kidal, any solution would have rotted future. "The Tuareg are our friends," forcefully reminded the French defense minister. Result: The plane landed at this airport that night included no Malian military. Best device from Burkina Faso is expected to bring a delegation Kidal MIA-MNLA to Ouagadougou to resume negotiations with the government of Mali.

Surprise. At the same time, while Bamako had dragged feet last November to discuss the Tuareg and is keen resentment towards the men of the North, the Malian National Assembly has just voted "unanimously" a piece of road includes discussions with "armed groups", hear the MNLA and MIA rid of Iyad Ag Ghali. No doubt that France , a position of strength, did not hesitate to twist the arm of his ally Mali to explain that his intervention miracle had not intended to give a blank check Bamako to break the Tuareg.

http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/guerre-au-mali/20130130.OBS7120/mali-l-enjeu-de-kidal.html
The link is to the english version :D
Frankly the translation is not really that good by the way...

davidbfpo
01-30-2013, 10:32 PM
Two review articles, each with numerous good points. The shortest is by an American academic from FP 'Mali Is Not a Stan: When it comes to covering Africa's latest conflict, it's suddenly amateur hour':http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/01/30/mali_is_not_afghanistan_france_africa?page=full


How is Mali different from Afghanistan? First, Mali is not where empires go to die. Afghanistan is well-known as a place that has always been difficult for any outsiders to invade and sustain military engagement, much less establish governing institutions. What governing institutions are established have long been weak and largely decentralized structures that allow local and tribal leaders maximum autonomy. Mali, by contrast, has a longer history of at least some centralized rule. The Mali Empire, which governed a huge swath of West Africa from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries, included the renowned city of scholarship in Timbuktu. Mali's colonization by France in 1892 was largely peaceful, and the country has never engaged in a serious war until now, with the exception of a brief and violent border dispute with Burkina Faso in the mid-1980s. France's exit from Mali at the end of colonization was accomplished peacefully as well.

France's engagement in Mali is also unlike U.S. engagement in Afghanistan in that, because of their colonial history, the French know what they are getting into. There are decades of outstanding French scholarship on Mali; France is practically drowning in Mali experts in government, academia, and the private sector. This is more important than many realize; having deep cultural and historical knowledge and a shared language (most educated Malians still speak French) makes it much easier for French forces to relate to average Malians and build friendships with key local leaders whose support will be necessary for long-term success.

The tip for success:
...knowing the importance of greeting others correctly is probably the single most important means by which French soldiers will win Malian hearts and minds.

The second is longer 'In Search of Monsters: on the French intervention in Mali' by Stephen W. Smith, a journalist with French papers and now an academic in the USA:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n03/stephen-w-smith/in-search-of-monsters?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3503&hq_e=el&hq_m=2265370&hq_l=5&hq_v=8853d77b01

I am not sure who was going to fly in supplies to the insurgents:
When the jihadists pushed south to seize the airport near Mopti, which would have allowed heavy cargo planes to supply them in their landlocked sanctuary and put them in a position to march on the capital, Paris decided to act.

davidbfpo
02-03-2013, 12:14 PM
A BBC piece 'Why Mali's Tuareg are lying low' which is a little bit "light", but has this worrying passage:
Just a few minutes drive away hundreds of young men are running whooping and singing through the bush.

They are the Ganda Izo, the Children of the Land, a militia composed largely of black refugees from the north that is training now to go home - and help the Malian army root out those who collaborated with the rebels.

We are the ones who know who's who, they say - who looted, who stole, who ordered or administered Islamic punishments for smoking and drinking - and who raped.

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21296746

davidbfpo
02-03-2013, 12:57 PM
An interesting, if very optimistic commentary by a "local"; with some home truths that many would prefer left unsaid:http://dekhnstan.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/mission-accomplished-part-deux/

davidbfpo
02-04-2013, 03:37 PM
A senior Ansar Dine Moussa Mohamed Ag Mohamed, and another from Mujao, Akhmed Oumeni Ould Baba, were arrested Saturday at the Algerian border by the MNLA. This is at least one part of the assertion Tuareg movement, which states that the arrest occurred after a clash between the MNLA and a convoy of rebels who tried to cross the Algerian border.

For the MNLA, claiming the arrest of two leaders of Ansar Dine and Mujao is a nice stunt. The Tuareg movement continues to affirm its commitment to assist the French forces in their hunt for terrorist groups hiding in northern Mali.

Link:http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20130204-mali-le-mnla-arrete-deux-hauts-responsables-ansar-dine-mujao

davidbfpo
02-08-2013, 03:57 PM
Mali is proving itself to be truly African to outsiders, I do not currently include the French military as outsiders. Africa has the habit of appearing to have simple problems to which external solutions can be readily applied - the Africa "hands" here will now nod sagely and chuckle.:wry:

Last week RFI, a French news agency, reported a demonstration of un-armed Malian Army para-commandos, known as the 'Red Berets" in Bamako, asking why they were not being deployed on operations. The unit had opposed the coup in 2012 and although kept in being clearly had an uncertain future.

On Friday Reuters reported:
Smoke rose from the base, where mutinous members of the 'red beret' paratroop unit.... started firing with their weapons to protest attempts to redeploy them. After several hours of firing, calm returned at the camp. The paratroopers had been ordered to join other units at the front in the ongoing French-led campaign against al Qaeda-allied insurgents. But they insisted on staying together as a regiment and resisted the military police, Malian officers said.

Link:http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/08/us-mali-rebels-idUSBRE91708I20130208

Now to the insurgents, who are reportedly dispersed and "on the run". A BBC News item on:
The Tegharghar mountains give the word "remote" new meaning....a region that is sometimes known as the Adagh des Ifoghas, or The mountains of the Ifoghas tribe, is 1,400 km (900 miles) from the Malian capital, Bamako. It has been at the epicentre of every single Tuareg rebellion against the central government since 1962.

al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and their allies know the area all too well. They first set up base here in 2003, using the Tegharghar mountains and the endless desert plains to the north-west as an ideal bolthole in which to hide Western hostages and train new recruits. Apart from one skirmish in 2009, the Malian army left them to it. Mali has paid the price for that laissez-faire policy.

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21326831

So what did the US 'Trans-Sahara' military assistance package achieve if AQIM were left alone from 2003-2012?

M-A Lagrange
02-11-2013, 01:59 PM
Radical Islamist in Mali used the same old strategy: vanish to come back and destabilise. This week end combats erupted in Gao.

France bombs Islamist hideout in Mali

GAO, Mali — France bombed Islamist targets in northern Mali on Monday following a string of guerrilla attacks by the extremists a month after Paris launched an offensive to drive them from its former colony.
In a pre-dawn attack, witnesses said a French army helicopter destroyed a central police station in the northern city of Gao from where rebels from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) had opened fire from the station on Malian troops Sunday, sparking an hours-long street battle.

Sunday's attack was the first large-scale urban guerrilla assault on territory reclaimed by French-led forces.
It started early in the afternoon when Malian soldiers clashed with Islamists in the city centre, near the governor's offices and the police station, which the rebels had used as the headquarters of their "Islamic police" until French-led forces recaptured Gao on January 26.
A witness said the gunmen had hidden in the empty police station then attacked Malian soldiers when they arrived, as snipers hidden in surrounding buildings opened fire.
He said that after a fierce gunbattle, French troops had intervened.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jB22QlifrNaXI6Tijtrua-68wEyw?docId=CNG.2c801244c0a764e858fbc2b16cbd985e. 4d1

I believe the response was ready since long... I tend to disagree with the idea that european (basically the French) are not ready or facing difficulties as it is said in various news papers. The objective is to reconquere territory, free hostages and pass the ball to the AU and UN. That's most probably were the difficulty is not on the ground.

KingJaja
02-11-2013, 06:17 PM
davidbfpo,


So what did the US 'Trans-Sahara' military assistance package achieve if AQIM were left alone from 2003-2012?

I don't think it achieved much. The Algerians have their methods of fighting terrorists (and I don't think the US changed them one bit).

As for Nigeria, grapevine suggests that they went as far afield as North Korea for advice - North Korean methods are reportedly "easier" to implement and more in tune with Nigerian Army culture.


(S/NF) SUMMARY: Nigeria has continuing military
cooperation with the DPRK, but the Nigerians tell us they are
only talking about missiles to keep the door open for
military aid from the DPRK, and do not intend to procure
missiles or their technology. DPRK VP Yang Hyong-sop is
visiting Nigeria this week for meetings with various Nigerian
leaders, including President Obasanjo, and Nigerian VP Atiku
has been Yang's main host. After Yang's meeting with Atiku
January 28, Atiku's spokesman said various things at
different times to the press about Nigerian interest in
missiles. President Obasanjo's Senior Special Assistant,
Ad'Obe Obe assured the CDA on January 29 that no military
cooperation of any kind was discussed in Obasanjo's meeting
with Yang, and that the GON had no intention of purchasing
missiles or missile technology from the DPRK. We asked the
senior MFA official in-country on January 29, PermSec
Wadibia-Anyanwu, for further information on what transpired,
which she said she would provide. END SUMMARY

If you recall how Sri Lanka dealt with the Tamil Tigers (with Chinese assistance), you'd immediately see where some serious African nations would turn to for advice on how to deal with terrorist issues.

davidbfpo
02-11-2013, 07:49 PM
Kingjaja,

Then there was Zimbabwe, which imported the North Koreans to train the 5th Brigade, when "Super-ZAPU" appeared in Matabeleland in the mid-1980's; a unit that became the by-word for brutality.

Not to overlook the use of private and government assistance from Israel.

M-A Lagrange
02-13-2013, 08:53 AM
Canada just announced that Mali was on the way to turn like Iraq or Afghanistan. Canada position, which is non fully decided yet, is echoing the “fear” of several experts across the Atlantic Ocean.
Mali threatens to become another Afghanistan: Canada

"I am very cautious about sending in potentially thousands of Canadian troops to Malian soil ... to what is already is amounting to a counter-insurgency. We're not at the drop of a hat going to get into another Afghanistan," Baird told a parliamentary committee.

"On one side we have a military government that took power in a coup last year and on the other side an al Qaeda affiliate. I don't think they're going to sign on for a peacekeeping mission," Baird said.

"It's very much going to be an insurgency on the ground like we've seen in Iraq and like we've seen in Afghanistan."
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/12/us-mali-canada-idUSBRE91B1CK20130212

It is difficult to deny the fact the risk exists and a failure in Mali would have greater strategic impact than actually foreseen. That said, it is important to consider the terrain and situation on the ground. Mali is not Afghanistan and the French lead coalition certainly not the US lead coalition in Iraq.

Why?

First of all, Mali is a well known country with well known opponent and radical armed groups. There is nobody new in that game. Unlike in Afghanistan, the nationalist Tuareg demands do not concur with the radical Islamist political agenda. In fact, it is AQ who seized the occasion to infiltrate the Tuareg rebellion. Just listen to the Tuareg youth reaction after AQ departure and you’ll understand. AQ Islam, which is driven by radical Arab Islam, has neither consideration nor respect for the West Africa Islam which integrates parts of the local believes. West Africa Islam, even radical, is deeply tainted by Sufism and local animist believes. There is a strong desagreement between radical Islamist and the population on what is Islam and what is Sharia, unlike in Afghanistan.

Secondly, Mali domestic political situation is not comparable to post Saddam Iraq or post Taliban Afghanistan. Regime change (for the best or the worst) was induced domestically, for domestic reasons, without external support. The French and Chadians, and US, in Mali did not defeat the Mali government but came to the rescue. The insurgency Canada is speaking of is just the attempt by a small number of radical combatants to get back what they once hold for several weeks: just the time needed to alienate the local population against their practices of Islam. But it is true that the Tuareg political agenda remains and is part of the solution.

KingJaja
02-13-2013, 09:32 AM
David,

Nigerian soldiers and their North Korean trainers:

http://odili.net/news/source/2012/feb/3/tribune/images/abachaforce[1].jpg

Since the Nigerian Army has links with North Korea, some senior officers might think North Korean methods are better suited to dealing with Boko Haram than classical American "counter-insurgency".

Or maybe, they might be talking to the Algerians.

Fuchs
02-13-2013, 05:02 PM
It is difficult to deny the fact the risk exists and a failure in Mali would have greater strategic impact than actually foreseen.

Now that's an opinion.

What you call "fact" is impossible to prove for the time being, so where do you get the insight that it's a "fact" from?

M-A Lagrange
02-13-2013, 06:04 PM
Now that's an opinion.

What you call "fact" is impossible to prove for the time being, so where do you get the insight that it's a "fact" from?

First:
The possibility of a failure exist: it is a fact. If you have 90% to win, it still remains 10% you loose. It's basic math...;)
The "fact: it will happen" is an opinion and is for the time being impossible to prove.

My insight is that asking the UN or/an the AU to conduct a war or a stabilisation mission is a receipy for failure. And to come to that opinion, I have several historical exemples in the subregion: Darfur is one of them.

Now my point was that Mali is not Afghanistan or Iraq. The context in Mali is far different from those 2 exemples. This to say that engaged troops in Mali, at the moment, do not face the same risk.

Second:
The impact of a failure is always bigger than expected. There is a tendency to lower the strategic impact of a failure. In the case of Mali this will open a new transborder and transcontinental space to armed groups that western and eastern powers are not really willing to allow to exist. This will impact the force equilibrium in the subregion and increase destabilization in other weakened countries... (the domino effect does exist despite the fact it is over rated).

Does that mean that an half success is not enough (military success for France and Chad but complete colaps of the State in Mali after the French withdraw)... Never said that. But I disagree with the idea that a complete failure (no complete military success part from freeing several cities during few weeks and reinforcement of the radical Islamists because of a repression against Tuaregs by Malian State) will have a limited impact that will not go out of Malian borders.

Finaly:
What is your opinion Fuch?

Fuchs
02-13-2013, 06:29 PM
The impact of a failure is always bigger than expected. There is a tendency to lower the strategic impact of a failure.

(...)

Finaly:
What is your opinion Fuch?

I doubt the "tendency" and I'm sure the "always" is utterly wrong.
Evidence A: Domino theory # lost Vietnam war.
Case closed. "always" was by far over the top.


I personally believe the Salafism/Wahhabism/AQ thing is irrelevant in the epitome of a desert, and not much more relevant a slightly bit to the south. Moreover, the Christian majority (with regional/animism influence as well, no doubt) to the south of Mali means the maximum expansion of the crooks doesn't even reach to the South Atlantic.


In other words;
Mali may disappear or declare war on my country; I wouldn't have the slightest impact on my daily life.

Save for an uneasiness about heights I really don't have much fear, and I certainly wasn't infected by the hysterical hyping of Mali. The newspaper kiosk on the street corner with its tobacco wares is more of a problem.

Bill Moore
02-16-2013, 06:42 PM
Not a new development, but this article goes in more depth than most.

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2013/02/jihadists-and-latin-american-drug.html?spref=tw

Jihadists and Latin American drug traffickers merge


He explains to the reporter: "During the last decade, Latin American cartels created new routes in Africa to transport cocaine and synthetic drugs to Europe and, to a lesser degree, to the United States. All of the continent is affected by drug trafficking, from South Africa to the Magreb countries. Independent research centers --like the CF2R and specialized institutions within the UN or in the European Union -- tried to alert the politicians. They weren't successful.

"It didn't take long to see the results. The drug trafficking gangrene infected the majority of the West Africa governments and established contact with radical Islamic groups. Today, we are faced with a new, very explosive phenomenon; "narco jihadists."

davidbfpo
02-27-2013, 08:11 PM
This may indicate at least one African leader is impatient with other nations:
Chad's President Idriss Deby appealed to West African leaders on Wednesday to urgently speed up deployment of their forces to northern Mali where Chadian and French forces are locked in bitter fighting with al Qaeda-linked rebels. Chad's contingent of some 2,400 troops has borne the brunt of battles with die-hard Islamists holed up in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains..most African units remain in southern Mali...

Link:http://uk.mobile.reuters.com/article/idUKBRE91Q0XV20130227?irpc=932

The Chadian military have been reported as being professional and well versed in fighting in such conditions - unlike some of the others who IMHO will prefer to remain in comfort.

How the ECOWAS contribution can become a UN mandated peacekeeping force is beyond me, this is an enforcement mission. ECOWAS want others to pay them, step forward the UN.

KingJaja
02-27-2013, 08:31 PM
David,

Debby owes his presidency to the French, so he was very enthusiastic about committing troops to Mali.

Having said that, other African presidents don't want to be stuck with the Malian "tar baby" - and they are happy for the "highly competent Chadian forces" to do the bulk of the fighting.

(PS: This isn't a solely "African" phenomenon, European nations do it, a lot).

davidbfpo
02-28-2013, 07:59 PM
Hat tip to Andrew Lebovich on Twitter for identifying this NY Review of Books:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/mar/21/when-jihad-came-mali/?pagination=false

Andrew's comment:
This is some very interesting Mali reporting from Joshua Hammer, raises some questions, confirms a few things...My biggest question with the Hammer piece is about some of the sourcing for specific claims.

davidbfpo
03-01-2013, 10:50 PM
A Le Monde article which has promise, but disappoints. That aside it does explain what is happening in parts of Northern Mali:
Those who have had the opportunity there to agree on one point: Adrar Tigharghar seems to have been specially created by the god of rebellion for shelter combatants in war against conventional forces.

Link:http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2013/02/28/dans-les-roches-de-l-adrar-de-tigharghar-une-bataille-cruciale-est-engagee_1840262_3212.html

davidbfpo
03-08-2013, 06:06 PM
An article from CSM on the Chadian military:
The Chadians have proved to be a useful partner not only because of their decades of experience fighting in a similar climate and terrain, but because they have spent much of the past decade fighting a panoply of rebel groups in their own country, many of which preferred to operate as light and mobile units, using tactics similar to those currently employed by the jihadis in Mali.

Then there is an ex-DoD regional expert, Rudy Atallah:
It depends how you define effective. In terms of aggressive team players supporting the French, they are doing a great job. If the definition is based purely on capability to continue the fight on their own, I don't think they can survive. Chadian troops are a blunt edge and good scouts for the French, but they couldn't be as effective without French intel, guidance, and air power.

Link:http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2013/0307/In-Mali-fight-Chad-proves-a-powerful-partner-for-France

Stan
03-08-2013, 07:54 PM
Then there is an ex-DoD regional expert, Rudy Atallah:
Quote:
It depends how you define effective. In terms of aggressive team players supporting the French, they are doing a great job. If the definition is based purely on capability to continue the fight on their own, I don't think they can survive. Chadian troops are a blunt edge and good scouts for the French, but they couldn't be as effective without French intel, guidance, and air power.
Link:http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Afric...ner-for-France

We now have two teams there and they are by each day more skeptical than that of the last. As we should be teaching instead of reacting, things are getting out of hand with the Chadians (who have concluded they are in charge).

It was years ago on the Libyan border with Hawk batteries that we determined the same regarding our Chadian brothers.

However, they can and do survive without any assistance (in the middle of nowhere). Effective is a relative term that one would use with caution. Violent comes to mind and it seems to work with the local problem. Africans are not accustomed to Western intel, guidance, etc.

Where and when the West backs off due to political ramifications, we then let the Africans do their thing :eek: How ironic that we then decide to tell them how neanderthal they are :wry:

davidbfpo
03-10-2013, 09:39 PM
There have several examples in African conflicts that small European nations have been able to assist a dialogue and peace. That Switzerland has a role in Mali does come as a surprise:
The Point.fr revealed this week that two members of the Democratic Union of the Centre (UDC), a formation belonging to the ruling coalition had challenged the Swiss government, stating that, "according to a reliable source," the soldiers an elite Swiss have spent two months in Mali . The information was denied by an official, but not by the defense minister nor his counterpart Foreign Affairs.

There is more on the link:http://www.lepoint.fr/monde/mali-la-suisse-reconnait-des-contacts-avec-les-independantistes-touareg-10-03-2013-1638207_24.php

SWJ Blog
03-13-2013, 09:15 AM
Who’s on First? Or Why Fences Matter More Than Al-Qaeda in Mali (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/who%E2%80%99s-on-first-or-why-fences-matter-more-than-al-qaeda-in-mali)

Entry Excerpt:



--------
Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/who%E2%80%99s-on-first-or-why-fences-matter-more-than-al-qaeda-in-mali) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

M-A Lagrange
03-15-2013, 08:22 AM
Apparently Ansar ed-Dine was financially rewarding the jihad combattant...


Mali: jihad premiums for captured city
Jihadists Ansar ed-Dine were rewarded for their achievements in Mali. Thus, for the capture of the town of Kidal, "it was 400,000 francs" CFA is 610 euros, according to a Touareg.
http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/monde/afrique/mali-primes-de-djihad-pour-les-villes-capturees_1231782.html#xtor=AL-447

I made light editing on the title. Here is the link to original article in French:
http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/monde/afrique/mali-primes-de-djihad-pour-les-villes-capturees_1231782.html#xtor=AL-447

Apparently faith does not pay anymore... :D

jmm99
03-15-2013, 04:24 PM
Hey MAL,

I conclude (using the utmost of post hoc, propter hoc logic) from this in your link:


January 9, at the time of the lightning attack of the djihadists towards the south of the country, the promised reward would be raised to 1 million francs CFA (1520 euros) in the event of conquest of Sevare, strategic suburb of Mopti. It is this raid which precipitated the French military intervention.


that, once the price of poker exceeds 1500 euros per head, one can expect arrival of the TdM and Legion. ;)

Now, why didn't the US think of that as a standard for intervention ? :o

Faith hasn't been much of a payer since Martin Luther nailed his thesis re: indulgences and benefices to the Church's door.

Regards

Mike

davidbfpo
03-15-2013, 11:07 PM
Andrew Lebovich has written a FP article 'Mali’s Bad Trip: Field notes from the West African drug trade', which covers much of the pre-coup information and adds what happened afterwards:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/03/15/mali_s_bad_trip?page=full

The impact of new wealth and the "oil" of corruption account in his judgement for much of the public support for the coup in Mali; removing an incompetent, corrupt government.

davidbfpo
03-18-2013, 01:01 PM
A simple menu and contains updates on those sitting at the table in Mali:http://bridgesfrombamako.com/2013/03/18/six-steps-to-fix-a-broken-mali/

Nice last sentence:
Peace in Mali rests as much on events in Bamako and Kati as in the Adrar des Ifoghas, in Gao, or in Kidal.

I am bemused to read elsewhere (NYT) on the suggestion that the UN assume a peacekeeping role in Mali. First the Malian military have made little contribution to the fighting in the north; the ECOWAS military and police appear to remain in Bamako - ostensibly to provide security, so the Malian military can deploy.

Will anyone want to take on a role that is far from 'peacekeeping'? I am struggling to recall a previous UN role in COIN.

Stan
03-18-2013, 06:11 PM
David,

The first three are an utter waste of time :rolleyes:

Free elections, national dialog and management of foreign aid ?

I'll pass on the first two, but managing foreign aid should not be any African Dictator's right.

Number 4. They tell us that this is the reason we are there but they don't participate and our training teams are heading North without them to respond.

Number 5. Ever hold talks with your enemy who would rather see you dead ?

Number 6. The so-called donors have always insisted on reconciliation as part of the deal. Jeez, when will they learn :wry:


I’m also aware that these six steps, while necessary for Mali’s future stability, may not be sufficient to produce it.

This part I agree with !

davidbfpo
03-22-2013, 11:23 PM
A good review of the situation by Gregory Mann:http://africasacountry.com/2013/03/22/welcome-to-mali/

It ends with:
First, the French might be only ones who want France to leave Mali any time soon. Almost every other actor would seem to have a vested interest in having them stick around for a while. That fact in and of itself might provoke future violence. The second, more important, point, is this: France can make war in Mali; it has done so in more ways than one, and (counting Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency) more than once. But France can not make the peace. That will be up to the better angels of people in Kuluba, Kati, Kidal, and beyond. While waiting for those angels to appear, it is looking ever more likely that France will claim to win its war while Mali fails to win its own.

One wonders is France has a realistic exit plan, before acting and even more so now. Note France has had its fifth fatality in the north.

davidbfpo
03-25-2013, 05:36 PM
A good film clip by a BBC reporter, who appears to be embedded with the Foreign Legion in the Tegharghar mountains of northern Mali; it can be viewed in the USA (thanks JMM):http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21921541

The accompanying, longer written report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21919769

Stan
03-26-2013, 12:02 AM
Nice clip, David !

Sadly, as the UN tags along behind the French some 600 clicks from Bamako, there are signs that the rebel's logistics were far better than expected and the Mali soldiers have little to nothing to include motivation.

If the French leave tomorrow there will be hell to pay !

M-A Lagrange
03-28-2013, 12:13 PM
French soldiers in Mali: "These jihadists are there to die"

Tell them fighting and their eyes trun vague. For twelve days of fierce battle, the 2nd REP legionnaires (Foreign Parachute Regiment) mounted at the front in the rough mountains of the Adrar des Iforas in northern Mali to flush out Islamist AQIM ( Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb). "We found ourselves facing an army trained and very clever," says Captain Clement.
In the lunar landscape of the valley Ametteta under a blazing sun, the soldiers conducted harsh combat. Sometimes within 3 m of their enemies, almost hand-to-hand combat. "We had not seen that from Algeria, said Gen. Bernard Barrera, the tactical commander of the operation Serval. In front of us the enemies agreed contact and rode into battle. "" In Afghanistan, it was very different compared Captain Clement. The Taliban often drop their weapons to blend in with the population and reappear under the disguise of a shepherd. Here, we fought against real warriors, able to develop a strategy and ambushes. They do not defiled, quite the contrary. " "They had food on them and also how to commit suicide"
http://www.leparisien.fr/international/video-les-soldats-francais-au-mali-ces-jihadistes-sont-la-pour-mourir-28-03-2013-2678081.php

Becareful: google translate can be... weird at the best:D
Also there is a video but for French speakers only

davidbfpo
04-04-2013, 01:17 PM
An interesting, if slightly off centre report by a journalist with Malian and French forces in Gao and suggests the "liberators" are not gretted by all the locals. Some grim photos too; there is a linked video but it failed to show here. He ends with:
A dozen jihadists, some of them children, had held off hundreds of Malian soldiers for a full day of fighting, until the French were forced to intervene. The city center was a smoldering ruin. For all the politicians’ talk in Paris of a swift end to their campaign in Mali, it seemed unlikely to me that the French would be going home any time soon.

Link:http://www.vice.com/en_au/read/al-qaeda-wants-africa-000251-v20n4?Contentpage=-1

Notable are the references to IEDs and stockpiles of weapons in the city.

TV-PressPass
04-12-2013, 07:57 PM
The Vice piece really highlights the lack of training in some of the Malian units right now. I was visibly wincing through the building clearing sequences.

I found the second half a little disappointing. Between the camera "running out of memory" for the French engagement, and the long shots of dismembered corpses, I didn't feel like it had the strong content of the first half.

ganulv
04-12-2013, 10:12 PM
The Vice piece really highlights the lack of training in some of the Malian units right now. I was visibly wincing through the building clearing sequences.

I found the second half a little disappointing. Between the camera "running out of memory" for the French engagement, and the long shots of dismembered corpses, I didn't feel like it had the strong content of the first half.

Vice is a strange mix of journalism that needs to be done which no one seems to do anymore and MTV’s Jackass. There was a good piece in the New Yorker about them recently. If nothing else, they (at least for now) seem to have figured out how to monetize media in the digital age. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/04/08/130408fa_fact_widdicombe

davidbfpo
04-15-2013, 07:00 PM
A one-stop backgrounder by a team of academics, for Mali before the French intervention; with an odd title until you learn:
The Malian national mascot is the hippopotamus...

Link:http://bamakobruce.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/lecocq-mann-et-al-one-hippo-8-blind-analysts-editors-cut.pdf

davidbfpo
04-15-2013, 07:06 PM
Chad, one of the largest supplier of troops battling Islamists in Mali, has started to pull them out, President Idriss Deby has said. "The Chadian army does not have the skills to fight a shadowy, guerrilla-style war that is taking place in northern Mali..About 30 have been killed - more than any other nationality..

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-22150625

davidbfpo
04-20-2013, 07:19 PM
An odd inventory, with fifty year old rockets and newer items:http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/E-Co-Publications/SAS-SANA-Conflict-Armament-Research-Rebel-Forces-in-Northern-Mali.pdf

davidbfpo
04-25-2013, 01:49 PM
A short French article, well worth reading and ends with:
On balance, the idea that the rebels clashed with Malian units with sophisticated weapons is indeed a myth. The differences lie elsewhere: in the maintenance of equipment in the amount of ammunition available, and most importantly, the ability to know how to use. Training is crucial, as the tactics implemented - considered essential in an environment like the desert where the movement bonus. Finally add the initiative and dynamism of leaders and also the morale of the fighters. No, arming the rebels was no more sophisticated than the Malian army: it has simply been used more wisely.

Link:http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20130425113211/libye-mouammar-kaddafi-armement-armee-maliennemali-le-mythe-de-l-armement-sophistique-des-jihadistes-et-du-mnla.html

Thinking aloud now. The crisis in Mali with the rebellion(s) in the north would have looked very different beyond Mali if all the speculation and gossip on the legacy of Gadafy's fall had not been treated as reliable reporting. Trust and verify!

Fuchs
04-25-2013, 02:28 PM
It won't help.

To most civilians the only known difference in military quality is the difference in how high-tech the toys are.

davidbfpo
04-25-2013, 05:11 PM
A short BBC report on the new UN peacekeeping mission to Mali, to be known as Minusma and a short clip on training the Malian army:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-22296705

A comment by the usually very good Thomas Fessey:
The UN is deploying a force in a country where there is still no peace to keep.

The blue helmets are tasked with securing the main cities and roads but they will not be in Mali to engage jihadist fighters. This is left to a 1,000-strong French force, which will continue to "chase terrorists" whenever needed.

France got what it wanted out of this resolution: African forces already on the ground are to be integrated into the UN force while the French will be able to operate freely according to threats.

Stan
04-25-2013, 05:33 PM
A short French article, well worth reading and ends with:

Link:http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20130425113211/libye-mouammar-kaddafi-armement-armee-maliennemali-le-mythe-de-l-armement-sophistique-des-jihadistes-et-du-mnla.html

Thinking aloud now. The crisis in Mali with the rebellion(s) in the north would have looked very different beyond Mali if all the speculation and gossip on the legacy of Gadafy's fall had not been treated as reliable reporting. Trust and verify!

David,
According to our team, the weapons are indeed from Libya, but there is little evidence to support training. Most were just dumped in the desert and the rest were never taken off of safety to initiate. We were initially warned of mass amounts of UXO and IED. What in fact was found and destroyed were abandoned munitions and weapons.

Whatever training they received, it wasn't sufficient :wry:

davidbfpo
04-29-2013, 07:00 PM
Logistics lead to compromises, this French report on Algerian support for the French military action, when Algeria opposed intervention in public and allowed overflights:http://www.lepoint.fr/editos-du-point/jean-guisnel/mali-l-aide-logistique-et-discrete-des-algeriens-26-04-2013-1660562_53.php


Tankers of fuel service of integrated logistics brigade armies went five times to the Algerian border, the trail starting from Tessalit to go take delivery of hundreds of cubic meters of fuel delivered by Algeria...Specifically, French empty tanks were made on a point of the Algerian-Malian border kept secret, where they were met Algerian gendarmes accompanying Algerian civilians tankers. Without this valuable contribution Algeria, the French had not previously made public operations in Ifoghas would probably not have been conducted in the same way. Or as fast.

davidbfpo
06-11-2013, 07:12 PM
A resource source, dated January 2013:http://africa.berkeley.edu/Outreach/Mali.php

davidbfpo
06-25-2013, 04:58 PM
Algeria has always had a different stance on Mali, so this statement comes as a slight surprise:
The international community must give its full support to the United Nations to stabilize Mali, a senior Algerian official said on Monday, at the start of a regional security conference in the city of Oran.

Link:http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/88050-full-support-needed-for-u-n-mission-in-mali-says-algeria

ganulv
07-01-2013, 02:15 PM
If I understand the Al Jazeera (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/07/20137104053853370.html) and BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-23125615?ocid=socialflow_twitter_africa) pieces correctly, the United Nations is in charge of peacekeeping in Mali as of today. But I am assuming that the four figures of French troops remaining there are not under UN command. Anyone able to clarify the arrangement?

davidbfpo
07-01-2013, 06:17 PM
Ganulv,

The official UN "line" regarding use of the French troops appears to be:
By other terms of the resolution (resolution 2100 of 25 April 2013 ), the Security Council authorized MINUSMA to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate as set out in paragraphs 16 (a) (i) and (ii), 16 (c) (i) and (iii), 16 (e), 16 (f) and 16 (g). It also authorized French troops deployed in Mali to use all necessary means to intervene in support of elements of MINUSMA when under imminent and serious threat upon request of the Secretary-General.

Link:http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/minusma/mandate.shtml

The Mission TOR are:
The Mission has been asked to support the transitional authorities of Mali in the stabilization of the country and implementation of the transitional roadmap, focusing on major population centres and lines of communication, protecting civilians, human rights monitoring, the creation of conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the return of displaced persons, the extension of State authority and the preparation of free, inclusive and peaceful elections.

Link:http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/minusma/index.shtml

Elsewhere I have read that all the actual troops, police and others are not expected to be in place before December 2013. A Chinese PLA contingent has been pledged, but an official news agency report stressed it had no offensive role and the combat element would protect camps etc.

The key word is, with my emphasis 'The Mission has been asked to support the transitional authorities of Mali...'

The UN of course are resolute:
This is not an anti-terrorist operation but of course the mandate has an element of real robustness in it and of course we are in a position to use all necessary means to defend ourselves and of course to defend the mandate...

From:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-23125615?ocid=socialflow_twitter_africa

We shall no doubt learn how 'robust' this mission is.

ganulv
07-02-2013, 12:47 AM
Thanks for passing all of this along, Dave.


We shall no doubt learn how 'robust' this mission is.

The election deadline seems impossibly optimistic/foolhardy to me, but what do I know? :confused:

M-A Lagrange
07-02-2013, 07:50 AM
Ganulv,

Without being as detail as David, what I have understood is:
- The African troops go under UN command.
- The French remain with a separate command to support the UN until all French troops are gone.

This looks simple on paper but I am sure this will en up in a complex mess on the ground, no one knowing who is responding to who and who is commanding what.

ganulv
07-02-2013, 03:56 PM
Ganulv,

Without being as detail as David, what I have understood is:
- The African troops go under UN command.
- The French remain with a separate command to support the UN until all French troops are gone.

This looks simple on paper but I am sure this will en up in a complex mess on the ground, no one knowing who is responding to who and who is commanding what.

I wonder if ONUCI (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Operation_in_C%C3%B4te_d%27Ivoire) is seen as something of a model for all this?

davidbfpo
07-02-2013, 05:58 PM
A special issue 'Region in Crisis: Stabilizing Mali and the Sahel' from 'Stability' an e-journal on Mali:http://www.stabilityjournal.org/collections/special/sta1-crisis-mali-sahel-stabilizing?filter=all&order=date&pp=10&page=1&current_page=0

Some interesting subjects covered, including 'Lessons from the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) for Peace Operations in Mali' and logistics. Yet to be read here.

Who are they?
Stability is an open-access and peer-reviewed journal. It cultivates research and analysis, makes it available free of charge and without delay. Its content combines the best of academic research with insights from policy-makers and practitioners for a tangible impact.

davidbfpo
07-05-2013, 09:52 PM
An unidentified drone is detected flying inside Mali, then shot down inside Mali and SOF inserted to collect all the debris. No-one says whose drone it is - so far.

Ah you ask, who possibly would do this? Well according to this report, Algeria:http://avicennesy.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/sahel-larmee-algerienne-abat-un-drone-au-nord-mali/

This is a rather odd incident if true. Why would Algeria shoot down a (US) drone over Mali?

Stan
07-05-2013, 10:22 PM
David,
Based on what we have been told (need to be careful with that statement lately), Algeria is one of the top three for drone deployments against what is now called a "security threat".

Sorry, but no SOF teams... just a bunch of soldiers leaving and blue helmets coming in from all over creation.

Regards, Stan

davidbfpo
07-06-2013, 03:14 PM
Apparently the Algerians first noted drone activity in the south in 2004, partly as "facilitators" were not very discreet in transit.

More recently there has been the traffic between the refugee camps around Tindouf, for the Sahrwis (from former Spanish Sahara), where the appeal of their Marxist-Leninist leadership has diminished for some of the younger generation and the appeal of the insurgents / bandits across the Sahel has had an impact.

General background:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahrawi_people

As one observer explained there are no border in the Sahel, it is a three day journey in a modern vehicle. Note the Sahrwis are not Tuareg's.

davidbfpo
07-10-2013, 08:48 PM
The American missions have not been without incident. On April 9, one of the drones crashed in a remote part of northern Mali, presumably because of a mechanical failure. “It was a total loss,” one Air Force officer said of the wreckage.

Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/world/africa/drones-in-niger-reflect-new-us-approach-in-terror-fight.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&smid=tw-share

The Algerians responding of course to assist with security and returning any wreckage recovered.

Quite different from being shot down!

Stan
07-11-2013, 08:01 PM
Never thought something like this website (http://dronewars.net/drone-crash-database/) existed :eek:

Seems drones are not that successful !

jmm99
07-11-2013, 09:03 PM
Carl addressed this topic earlier this year (post (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=144748&postcount=219)):


I don't know if it is fear mongering or not, but the article [link (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/feb/12/450-british-military-drones-lost)] serves a useful purpose, to highlight the fact that drones crash a lot. They can't help but crash a lot given the limited view of the world the drivers have, the lag time between control input and response, what appears to me (viewing from the outside) to be limited control response, they are underpowered and the drivers have zero kinesthetic (sic) feedback. They are going to be crashing a lot until all those things are fixed.

And of course sometimes they decide to go walkabout. I'll never forget the bemused look on the face of a battle captain once. I asked him what was up and he said "The drone." "Oh yeah. Where's it going?" "We don't know exactly, but it's on its way."

For your listening pleasure - Wormphlegm - Epejumalat monet tesse muinen palveltin caucan ja lesse (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQUgcs2qOYM) - "Finnish Drone Funeral Doom".

Regards

Mike

PS 1: the article mentioned by Carl and first linked by David in a prior post (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=144740&postcount=215), mentions the website you found:


"The drone industry constantly talks up the supposed economic benefits of unmanned drones, but it is the civil liberties and safety implications that need real attention," said Chris Cole, who set up watchdog website Drone Wars UK.

Then at:

http://dronewarsuk.wordpress.com/

Now at:

http://dronewars.net/

PS 2: I had to look up the song title - Epejumalat monet tesse muinen palveltin caucan ja lesse - at link (http://www.last.fm/music/Wormphlegm/_/Epejumalat+Monet+Tesse+Muinen+Palveltin+Caucan+Ja+ Lesse):


The song title is a phrase in archaic Finnish taken from Mikael Agricola’s “Epäjumalien luettelo” (The List of False Gods). In modern Finnish the phrase means “Epäjumalat monet tässä muinoin palveltiin kaukana ja läsnä” which roughly translates to “The many false gods listed here were once worshipped here and there” in English.

The song evidences beyond all doubt (reasonable or otherwise) the inherent cheerfulness of the Finnish People.

bourbon
07-12-2013, 01:40 PM
Never thought something like this website (http://dronewars.net/drone-crash-database/) existed :eek:

Seems drones are not that successful !
Drones will crash, we should expect this; we should be deploying cheaper drones and more of them. I think we are looking at drones too much like manned aircraft.

davidbfpo
07-12-2013, 02:18 PM
I suspect that the Algerians reportedly entered Mali to recover the debris for a variety of reasons, including that shared enemies didn't get any wreckage and so earn credit or cash with other "interested parties". Plus of course for Algeria some "kudos" with the USA, diplomacy needs trade.

In the absence of a fully functioning state in Mali "those who can, do".

carl
07-13-2013, 04:33 AM
Carl addressed this topic earlier this year (post (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=144748&postcount=219)):


I should add something to that. The quality of weather forecasting depends somewhat on the number of weather reporting staions you have. In parts of Africal the reporting stations can be very few and very far apart. So for large areas and I means areas hundreds of miles long, it is mostly a guess. That was the case in Congo. The Sahara might be the same or worse. In that case you are launching a good surveilance platform but marginal airplane into the near unknown. Problems can ensue.

davidbfpo
07-25-2013, 07:13 PM
Only if you have a Twitter account though.

Thomas Fessy, the BBC World Service's correspondent for the Sahel, answered questions earlier today; search via #bbcfessy or #bbcmali.

There is a French report on some polling results:http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20130725115539/sondage-modibo-sidibe-touaregs-soumaila-cissesondage-sur-la-presidentielle-malienne-vous-avez-vote-pour-ibk.html

ganulv
08-11-2013, 02:31 PM
The second round of elections in Mali is underway today. Here (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/08/2013811821775432.html) is a link to the Al Jazeera piece; a round-up of French language pieces may be found here (http://www.rfi.fr/tag/mali).

davidbfpo
08-12-2013, 02:31 PM
A commentary on the first round in the elections, the second round of voting is today:http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/thebirminghambrief/items/2013/08/The-Malian-presidential-election-A-new-beginning-or-history-repeating-itself.aspx

SWJ Blog
08-18-2013, 05:40 PM
The 2012-2013 Mali Conflict: Considerations on the Human Battlespace and Strategic Outcomes (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-2012-2013-mali-conflict-considerations-on-the-human-battlespace-and-strategic-outcomes)

Entry Excerpt:



--------
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davidbfpo
09-06-2013, 10:22 PM
A short fifty-one page document, published by Northwestern University; the authors being Alexander Thurston and Andrew Lebovich:http://www.bcics.northwestern.edu/documents/workingpapers/ISITA-13-001-Thurston-Lebovich.pdf

One wonders if the intelligence agencies supplied such a helpful briefing when Mali came to the fore?


This Handbook provides resources that help explain and contextualize the intersecting crises that destabilized Mali in 2012-2013. These crises included a rebellion by Tuareg separatists, a coup by junior officers, and violence carried out by Muslim militants. In addition to an overview of the crisis, the Handbook contains historical timelines, demographic information, glossaries of individuals and movements, translated documents, and maps. Interspersed throughout the text are
narratives offering historical background on past rebellions in Mali, as well as information about contemporary Malian society and detailed sections analyzing the actors in the 2012-2013 crisis. For novice observers of Mali, the Handbook serves as an introduction to the country. For veteran
analysts, the Handbook represents an important reference guide. At the end of the Handbook, a bibliography lists both scholarly works on Mali and resources for continued coverage of events there. By presenting Mali's past and present in their complexity, the Handbook casts doubt on
reductionist narratives about the conflict and gestures toward the nuance and sophistication necessary to understanding this country and its problems.

Something to peruse another day.

ganulv
10-25-2013, 05:07 PM
A suicide attack Wednesday (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24643733) claimed the lives of two Chadian peacekeepers near the Algerian border in Tessalit (http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=20.25000,0.99482&z=6&t=H&marker0=20.24899%2C0.99482%2CTessalit). Radio France Internationale reports (http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20131024-tessalit-premiere-attaque-terroriste-contre-casques-bleus-mali) Ould Badi (http://thewasat.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/of-mergers-mujao-and-mokhtar-belmokhtar/) as claiming responsibility for the attack.

A military operation (http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2013/10/24/une-operation-militaire-de-grande-ampleur-en-cours-au-mali_3502505_3212.html) was commenced, or at least announced, yesterday. The New York Times reports (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/25/world/africa/france-begins-new-anti-islamist-sweep-in-mali.html?_r=0) that the operation will be sweeping the Niger Loop (http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=15.91907,-0.84045&z=8&t=H&marker0=20.24899%2C0.99482%2CTessalit), which seems a large swath of territory given the available French + MINUSMA personnel.

CrowBat
11-03-2013, 08:13 AM
This is a rather odd incident if true. Why would Algeria shoot down a (US) drone over Mali?
Except for a crash in this case, an alternative reply would be - just for example (and provided it was Algeria at all) - that there is a very clearly defined 'no go' area for US forces along the border between Algeria and Mali.

This zone is up to 150km wide (on N-S axis) in NW Mali, and between 30 and 80km wide in N and NE Mali. There are four commercial corridors through it though (all on N-S axis).

Washington (and Paris) agreed to respect this zone (in exchange for rights of US [and French] planes to 'cut the corner' over SW and SE Algeria), and usually respected it so far: the EP-3s from Rota were not flying there, the MQ-1s and RQ-4s from Sigonella were not flying there etc. Surely, back in March this year, the US several times requested 'special permission' to fly its E-8s and EP-3s into that zone, and these were sometimes permitted to approach to less than 20km to the Algerian border.

Algerians are cooperative in regards of pursuing common enemies, but there are limits of this cooperation.

davidbfpo
11-11-2013, 09:05 PM
Two different reports; the murder of two French journalists last week appear to have acted as a catalyst and for a moment Mali is in the foreground.

Nothing is simple, crime, terrorism and money intersect:
It’s possible that the two murders were in retaliation for what could be understood as a breach of contract. It’s also possible that the huge amount of money simply convinced some other group to try its luck.

Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/11/opinion/anarchy-and-death-in-mali.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_ee_20131111

Or the tribal / communal nature of politics in Mali:
As a result of France's political decision not to “arm-twist ” Bamako into talks with the MNLA, a large swathe of Mali is currently ungovernable making a return of Touareg extremist groups like groups Ansar Dine and MUJAO very likely.

Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/hassan-masiky/france%E2%80%99s-unfinished-business-in-mali

davidbfpo
11-13-2013, 11:25 PM
A UK FCO paper 'Traffickers and Terrorists: drugs and violent jihad in Mali and the wider Sahel', which is short and interesting:https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/256619/Oct_2013_Traffickers_and_Terrorists.pdf

It ends with:
Winning the war against both trafficking and
terrorism will mean building and maintaining the legitimacy of the state in the region.

Nothing like setting an impossible task! Why not persuading the locals the opposition are bad for them? Too much wine, bye.:)

KingJaja
11-13-2013, 11:49 PM
David,

At the root of a lot of the problems in the Sahel region is state legitimacy and the deeper issue isn't whether the states could be made to function better but whether they should exist in the first place.

The US will learn this somewhere along the line and abandon this region to former colonial masters, who will then abandon it when they get tired.

It's back to the 100 years war and the Peace of Westphalia.

Bill Moore
11-18-2013, 08:03 AM
David,

At the root of a lot of the problems in the Sahel region is state legitimacy and the deeper issue isn't whether the states could be made to function better but whether they should exist in the first place.

The US will learn this somewhere along the line and abandon this region to former colonial masters, who will then abandon it when they get tired.

It's back to the 100 years war and the Peace of Westphalia.

An interesting article that ties into KingJaja's comment:

http://www.disamjournal.org/articles/Anarchy-is-the-New-Normal-Unconventional-Governance-and-21st-Century-Statecraft-1120


Assumptions that good governance can only exist through state structures often result in flawed, ineffective policy responses that satisfy bureaucrats without altering ground conditions. Consider West Africa, where American officials are more concerned with financing capacity building programs to support dysfunctional states (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and so on) than identifying and influencing religious and tribal power brokers, even if they don’t hold formal elective office. And in Mexico, law enforcement in the six northern states collapsed without disrupting U.S.-Mexico trade volume, which grew from $332 billion in 2006 to a record $493.5 billion in 2012.


From South Ossetia in the Caucasus to Somaliland in East Africa, much of the world operates under political structures that are difficult for American pundits and policymakers to understand, let alone influence. As this map of geopolitical “anomalies” illustrates well, anarchy is the new normal in the 21st century world.[1] Consequently, an initial step towards more perceptive policy approaches might be to manage, accept, or even encourage unconventional governance as a productive avenue through which American power could be regularly exercised. This approach would view unelected leaders in general, and ungoverned space in particular, as conditions to be effectively handled rather than problems to be permanently solved.

http://www.fpri.org/articles/2013/10/anarchy-new-normal-unconventional-governance-and-21st-century-statecraft


If American policymakers reconsider Mali’s security situation through a paradigm other than Westphalian structures and Bismarckian statecraft, they might reach different policy conclusions. By acknowledging the obvious—Tuareg leaders, not the Mali government, control northern Mali—Washington might also seek to persuade the Tuaregs to become allies instead of enemies. Instead of teaching Malian soldiers tactics they already know and logistics they can never afford, officials could make clear that the United States fought the Tuaregs because their leaders chose to embrace radical Salafist Islam as an end to achieve independence, and not because the U.S. opposes a de facto, or even a de jure, independent Tuareg area.

While wantonly partitioning off the ethnic region might upset the president of Mali, doing so eliminates the uncomfortable and unnecessary façade that the national government is the country’s most significant political force. That it is not is obvious to anyone in West Africa. As FPRI’s Ahmed Charai recently wrote, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI carries regional influence based on his inherited Islamic title “commander of the faithful.” The king’s recent initiatives to promote religious moderation among radicalized Tuareg imams may preserve Washington’s regional interests more effectively than any state-building endeavor ever could.

davidbfpo
12-02-2013, 04:51 PM
From FP Blog:
he Dutch military is planning to deploy a team of dozens of military intelligence operatives in Mali in the coming weeks, part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission ....The Dutch contribution ... include a team of special-forces troops and four Apache attack helicopters -- marks a rare return by a European power to a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Africa

More details behind a FP pay-wall alas.

A curious deployment, especially of the Apaches; the Dutch join the French and Ukraine as the only European nations with military contingents with the UN in Africa, I exclude observers and non-UN training teams. A statement based on the IISS Military Balance 2013.

AdamG
12-07-2013, 05:55 PM
Not sure if this link was already posted and buried (quick search fails me), but
ten minutes of Urban Three-Stoogery with AKs is worth the repost.

Bonus hilarity at the 5.20 mark: Private Einstein, part of a team sent to the building where snipers are suspected to be on the roof, empties a magazine down towards his comrades. Said team has no direct commo with it's command group). This video so needs to be set to music.


Ground Zero - Mali was shot in Gao, Mali, on February 21, 2013. It's basically the first legitimate combat footage to come out of the war there. Normally the French ban journalists from the frontlines and film a sanitized version of the fighting themselves and then distribute it to the media.

In this case, the insurgents came to us: they slipped into Gao overnight on small boats and used suicide bombers to blast their way into government buildings. The French left the fighting to the Malian army for most of the day as a test of their combat abilities. Malian soldiers, while very brave, are almost completely untrained and had great difficulty fighting less than a dozen jihadists, some of whom were children. They fired wild bursts of automatic fire everywhere, destroying the city center. The Malians soon ran out of ammunition and had to wait for the French to show up and save the day.
http://www.vice.com/ground-zero/mali

JMA
12-07-2013, 08:10 PM
As with the prey of South African snipers in the DRC recently pathetic excuses for soldiers such as these can be taken out systematically and can be held off indefinitely. Obviously these insurgents can't shoot either.

Moving down an open road is not bravery... is is idiocy



Not sure if this link was already posted and buried (quick search fails me), but
ten minutes of Urban Three-Stoogery with AKs is worth the repost.

Bonus hilarity at the 5.20 mark: Private Einstein, part of a team sent to the building where snipers are suspected to be on the roof, empties a magazine down towards his comrades. Said team has no direct commo with it's command group). This video so needs to be set to music.


http://www.vice.com/ground-zero/mali

davidbfpo
12-08-2013, 03:06 PM
An AP report on the murder of Tuareg's who remained in the towns re-captured and handed over to the Malian military:http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268778/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=csYdabdI

Incidentally I noted with amazement that the Malian military, in the two film clips, relied upon mobile-phones for comms.

SWJ Blog
04-03-2014, 03:53 PM
Air Force's Forgotten Mission to Mali (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/air-forces-forgotten-mission-to-mali)

Entry Excerpt:



--------
Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/air-forces-forgotten-mission-to-mali) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

Fuchs
04-17-2014, 04:45 PM
http://www.cdef.terre.defense.gouv.fr/periodiques/reflexions-tactiques-doctrine-tactique/numeros-speciaux/operation-serval

davidbfpo
04-17-2014, 07:05 PM
Fuchs,

A good catch the official French post-action report, which does have an English summary.

I'd missed that what appear to be lorry-borne heavy artillery was deployed and the logistic aspect is covered.

Fuchs
04-17-2014, 11:43 PM
Fuchs,

A good catch the official French post-action report, which does have an English summary.

I'd missed that what appear to be lorry-borne heavy artillery was deployed and the logistic aspect is covered.

I get their newsletter, automated my 'catching' here.

Language barriers are troublesome, so I make a conscious effort to penetrate them.

Piranha
04-18-2014, 03:11 PM
I get their newsletter, automated my 'catching' here.

Language barriers are troublesome, so I make a conscious effort to penetrate them.

Could you provide us with a link for that?
I could be of help with the language.

Happy Easter to all, in whichever way you celebrate it.

davidbfpo
04-29-2014, 11:11 PM
A short NYT article, which appears to be based on unofficial statements from French & US officials and not that we have not heard this language before:
So the group that terrorized half a country (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/world/africa/jidhadists-fierce-justice-drives-thousands-to-flee-mali.html?pagewanted=all), northern Mali, in the heart of West Africa for much of 2012, taking over its major towns, and threatening other nations in the region, has been reduced to a pale remnant of its former self. It is no longer the pre-eminent threat to the fragile states in West Africa’s Sahel region — the band of desert and semi-desert running just below the Sahara.

Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/world/africa/keeping-al-qaedas-west-african-unit-on-the-run.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1

davidbfpo
05-19-2014, 04:01 PM
Via NYT:
Separatist Tuareg rebels launched an assault on the city of Kidal in northern Mali over the weekend, killing eight soldiers, storming government buildings and taking 30 hostages in a “declaration of war” on the government, officials said Sunday.The attack was apparently prompted by a visit to Kidal on Saturday by the newly appointed prime minister, Moussa Mara, highlighting regional hostility toward the central government in Bamako and casting further doubt on the viability of reconciliation efforts in the wake of the turmoil experienced by the country since 2012.

Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/19/world/africa/mali-rebels-attack-and-seize-hostages.html?

Noteworthy as IMHO the seperatist Tuareg have been quiet since the French-supported intervention. Almost a return to "normal" in Mali.

davidbfpo
07-14-2014, 04:16 PM
An odd headline IMHO:
France ends Mali offensive, redeploys troops to restive Sahel

Followed within by (slightly edited):
The new "counter-terrorism" operation, codenamed Barkhan, will kick off in the coming days and is being implemented in partnership with five countries -- Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad -- Le Drian said.

He added that some 3,000 French soldiers would be part of the operation, 1,000 of whom would stay in northern Mali and the rest would be deployed in the other countries....which will have its headquarters in the Chadian capital N'Djamena


Link:http://news.yahoo.com/france-ends-mali-offensive-redeploys-troops-restive-sahel-183027863.html?

SWJ Blog
07-31-2014, 07:10 PM
Northern Mali Conflict 2012 (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/northern-mali-conflict-2012)

Entry Excerpt:



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AdamG
08-25-2014, 02:39 PM
Presented separately from the Mali thread, to highlight the unique aspects of this Operation.


Operation Barkhane, named after a crescent-shaped sand dune, will involve the deployment of 3000 military personnel across the vast Sahel region, backed by six fighter jets, 20 helicopters and three drones. The mission will form a belt of French military presence in five northern African countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Niger and Mauritania.

Operation Barkhane will bring Operation Serval, the French military intervention in the north of Mali since January 2013, to a close.

The French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that with Operation Barkhane France will counter the threat of terrorism in the region. "There still is a major risk that jihadists develop in the area that runs from the Horn of Africa to Guinea-Bissau," he said.

22 July 2014
http://www.english.rfi.fr/africa/20140722-operation-barkhane-increases-french-influence-sahel


Hollande has said the Barkhane force will allow for a "rapid and efficient intervention in the event of a crisis" in the region.

Hollande also stressed the importance of engagement by African forces.

Chadian President Idriss Deby agreed, saying it is not always France’s job to ensure security in the region, and Africans must also take charge.
http://m.france24.com/en/20140719-hollande-announces-new-military-operation-west-africa/


In terms of division of labor between France and the G5 Sahel, four permanent military bases have been established:

- headquarters and air force in the Chadian capital of N'Djamena under the leadership of French Général Palasset;

- a regional base in Gao, north Mali, with at least 1,000 men;

- a special-forces base in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou;

- an intelligence base in Niger’s capital, Niamey, with over 300 men; the air base of Niamey, is important as it hosts drones in charge of gathering intelligence across the entire Sahel-Saharan region;

- aside from the four permanent bases, several temporary bases will be created with an average of thirty to fifty men, where and when required.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/welcome-frances-new-war-terror-africa-operation-barkhane-11029


At its core, Barkhane is intended to focus on cross-border security and to combating the threat of terrorism emerging from Islamist militants. By shifting toward a regional focus, and away from bi-lateral relationships, Palasset will gain valuable distance from internal politics within each of the partner states. This distance means flexibility, and further enhances Barkhane’squick deployment capabilities.

Palasset’s force is set to be provisioned as follows:

20 helicopters (assumedly a mix of Gazelle light attack helicopters, and transport Puma or and Cougar transport helicopters). It is unclear if Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters will be included in the mission force structure.
200 armoured vehicles (a mix of Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé (VABs), Véhicule Blindé de Combat d’Infanterie (VBCIs), Engin de Reconnaissance à Canon de 90 mm (ERC 90s Sagaie’s);
ten dedicated transport/reconnaissance aircraft,
six fighter planes (Rafaele Mirage 2000’s)
three drones (Harfangs).


“When the Sahel is threatened, Europe and France are threatened,” Hollande told French soldiers in Chad during a three day visit to West Africa in late July. While also pushing French trade, the president used the visit through Ivory Coast, Niger, and Chad to solidify support amongst these countries for Operation Barkhane. “There still is a major risk that jihadists develop in the area that runs from the Horn of Africa to Guinea-Bissau” says French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. “The aim is to prevent what I call the highway of all forms of traffics to become a place of permanent passage, where jihadist groups between Libya and the Atlantic Ocean can rebuild themselves, which would lead to serious consequences for our security.”

http://www.africandefence.net/operation-barkhane-under-the-hood/


The existence of a single operational command in Chad (1 300 troops) for the whole Sahel is a new element. Operation Barkhane has a base in Mali (1 000 troops), an intelligence centre in Niger (300 soldiers) and a special forces centre in Burkina Faso. While Côte d’Ivoire (with its 550 troops) will serve as an operational base to support the deployment, the bases in Senegal (350 troops) and Gabon (450 troops) remain regional cooperation centres. Some 3 000 soldiers will be mobilised in a wider area of action to support the G5 members (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad)

France provides human, financial and logistical means, but this deployment, dedicated to the fight against armed terrorist groups, will not affect the French military’s traditional missions. Under military cooperation, African armies will continue to receive training and equipment to carry out joint actions with French troops. The presence and/or transit of French forces in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad are regulated by cooperation agreements that date back to the 1960s and have been updated since. Mauritania, for its part, signed an agreement with France to fight terrorism in November 2013.

Three priorities of France’s policy in Africa – Africanisation (supporting African capacities), Europeanisation (including French action in European policy) and multilateralism (for France to act in a multilateral framework, such as the United Nations) – have been adapted to the realities in the Sahel following the final declaration of the December 2013 Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa. However, with its intervention in Mali, France is alone on the Sahel front.
http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=35914:iss-operation-barkhane-a-show-of-force-and-political-games-in-the-sahel-sahara&catid=56:diplomacy-a-peace&Itemid=111


French Government website
http://www.defense.gouv.fr/operations/actualites/lancement-de-l-operation-barkhane

AdamG
08-25-2014, 02:41 PM
Ooops.


...if the French high command had thought more about the etymology of the word, it might have gone for another animal name.

The word barkhan is of Russian-Turkistan origin, said to have been coined by a Russian naturalist, Alexander von Middendorf, in 1881. The worrying aspect of it for France is not the Russian-Turkistan association, but the year 1881. While von Middendorf was busy coining the word barkhan for his dunes, France was experiencing a military nightmare in the middle of the Sahara.

The story of the disastrous Flatters expedition of 1880-81 is imprinted on the French colonial psyche, partly because of the absurdity of the project, partly because of its foolhardy planning and leadership, but mostly for its gruesome and grizzly details, which so shocked France that a halt was placed on further colonial penetration into the Sahara for almost 20 years.

Flatters set out from Ouargla in November 1880 at the head of a mixed column of over 90 men to reconnoitre a route for a railway across the Sahara. Such a grandiose scheme, designed to bring France closer to her Sahelian and West Africa territories, had been given impetus by the Americans succeeding in building a railway across their continent 11 years earlier.

The eve of their departure was celebrated with a grand dinner and the finest champagne, but also much nervousness, as local Chaamba tribesmen warned that they would run into trouble if they tried to enter Tuareg territory.

As the column headed south, Tuareg drew Flatters deeper into their country, before dividing his force at a water hole and massacring half of them. The column had got to within 200 kms of today’s border with Niger. The survivors were allowed to escape, but only for the Tuareg to play cat and mouse with them.

First, Tuareg offered them dates that had been crushed with efelehleh (Hyoscyamus muticus falezlez), one of the world’s most deadly plants. Most of those who ate it died in delirium and agony. The survivors then watched the Tuareg decapitate three of their Chaamba guides (most of whom, knowing the ways of the Tuareg, had refused the dates), while their accompanying Tidjaniya mokhadem (holy man) was split with a single blow of a broadsword from head to hips.

The remaining survivors continued their desperate trudge northwards, with those falling asleep being killed and eaten, as cannibalism became the means of survival. The last surviving Frenchman, the ailing Sergeant Pobéguin, was shot and eaten after much discussion as to whether a Frenchmen should not be treated with more respect. On 4 April 1881, 11 half-dead Chaamba crawled into Ouargla to tell the tale.

Those involved in Operation Barkhan will not wish to be reminded of the symbolism and memories of 1881.
- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/france-s-operation-barkhan-and-sahara-s-ghosts-225752252#sthash.tes2FVkG.dpuf

davidbfpo
12-24-2014, 06:59 PM
Andrew Lebovich is a SME on Mali, today his October commentary become free to read. His summary:
Any political, security and economic arrangement to deal with Mali's crisis must be acceptable and amenable to local actors, yet international support and a regional arrangement are also necessary and inescapable.
Link:http://www.thebrokeronline.eu/Blogs/Sahel-Watch-a-living-analysis-of-the-conflict-in-Mali/Mali-in-the-international-setting

davidbfpo
01-14-2015, 08:47 PM
Andrew Lebovich is a SME on Mali, now has a commentary 'Pulling Apart at the Seams: How the Smuggling and Narcotics Trade Are Helping to Reshape Governance in the Sahel':http://www.fletchersecurity.org/#!lebovich/cqvl

davidbfpo
01-24-2015, 12:43 PM
The Dutch have four Apache attack helicopters in Mali and they have fired their first shots, just as peace talks are underway in Algiers:http://af.reuters.com/article/moroccoNews/idAFL6N0V242Y20150123?

davidbfpo
04-23-2015, 09:37 AM
Some light on this strange incident in 2012, subject of Post 147:

US on duty deaths in a crash in Mali Nor have events in Mali been without loss for the USA, edited down and dated 20th April 2012 (thanks to a SWC reader):
Three American military personnel and three civilians died early Friday in a single-car crash in Mali's capital, U.S. officials said... one of the three Americans was from U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, and the two others were assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command. The military personnel were in Mali as part of a U.S. special operations training mission that was suspended after last month's coup overthrew the country's democratically elected president.
Link:http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/20/3-us-military-personnel-killed-in-mali-crash/
Within a long article via Open Democracy on AFRICOM's faulty record:
Three of the dead were American commandos. The driver, a captain nicknamed “Whiskey Dan,” was the leader of a shadowy team of operatives never profiled in the media and rarely mentioned (http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/frontlines/democracy-human-rights-governance/collaborative-approach-combating) even in government publications. One of the passengers was from an even more secretive unit whose work is often integral to Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which conducts clandestine kill-and-capture missions overseas. Three of the others weren’t military personnel at all or even Americans. They were Moroccan women alternately described as barmaids or "prostitutes."
The six deaths followed an April 2012 all-night bar crawl through Mali’s capital, Bamako, according to a formerly classified report by US Army criminal investigators.
The command, for example, issued (http://www.africom.mil/newsroom/article/8927/three-us-military-service-members-killed-in-auto-a) a five-sentence press release regarding those deaths in Bamako. They provided neither the names of the Americans nor the identities of the “three civilians” who perished with them. They failed to mention that the men were with the Special Operations forces, noting only that the deceased were “US military members.” For months after the crash, the Pentagon kept secret the name of Master Sergeant Trevor Bast, a communications technician with the Intelligence and Security Command...
“It must be noted that the activities of US military forces in Mali have been very public,” Colonel Tom Davis of AFRICOM told (http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175574/) TomDispatch in the wake of the deaths, without explaining why the commandos were still in the country a month after the United States had suspended (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/mysterious-fatal-crash-provides-rare-glimpse-of-us-commandos-in-mali/2012/07/08/gJQAGO71WW_story.html) military relations with Mali’s government. In the years since, the command has released no additional information about the episode.
Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/nick-turse-tom-engelhardt/africom-behaving-badly

I know from previous comments on the author, Tom Engelhardt (and presumably the co-author Nick Turse) has a strong agenda and viewpoint.

davidbfpo
05-15-2015, 09:11 PM
A rare UK press report on Mali, it starts with:
The worst violence between army troops and Touareg rebels in more than a year threatens to delay long-awaited accord, due to be signed today

(It ends with) Now, after over three years of civil war ordinary people in northern Mali (http://www.theguardian.com/world/mali) are desperate for a return to security and normality, but a resolution is not yet in sight.
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/15/mali-peace-deal-violence

davidbfpo
08-24-2015, 08:54 PM
A short article, which appears not to involve being on the ground and starts with:
More than eight weeks after a landmark peace accord between Mali’s Bamako government and a Tuareg-led rebel coalition brought hope of an end to years of unrest, little has been done to end the fighting and militancy is once again on the rise. In recent months, Mali has experienced some of the worst violence since international forces pushed Islamist militants out of their northern strongholds in January 2013.
Link:http://www.irinnews.org/report/101889/what-peace-deal-no-end-to-mali-conflict?

davidbfpo
11-20-2015, 10:00 PM
From:http://newirin.irinnews.org/dataviz/2015/11/20/map-of-conflict-in-mali-2015

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CUQQ0yHXIAAkZnm.png:large

Backgrounder:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/20/bamako-attack-mali-fight-continues-french-intervention?

Bill Moore
11-21-2015, 05:40 PM
Initial media reports state Mali's security forces responded to the incident in a professional manner. Hopefully our SWJ members in the region will confirm or deny that report. If true, that is at least a silver lining in this dark cloud.

davidbfpo
11-25-2015, 10:14 PM
Just found this long review article and only partly read - others have been worth reading:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/25/the-struggle-for-mali

For the weapons experts the photo of Malian soldiers to my "armchair" level of knowledge do not appear to be carrying any ammunition, except the magazine in their AKs.
https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/d0e7ef3b4e6eb813cbe12f8727511357b7df0bb6/0_368_5760_3457/master/5760.jpg?w=860&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&
https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/d0e7ef3b4e6eb813cbe12f8727511357b7df0bb6/0_368_5760_3457/master/5760.jpg?w=860&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&

Biggus
11-27-2015, 12:38 PM
For the weapons experts the photo of Malian soldiers to my "armchair" level of knowledge do not appear to be carrying any ammunition, except the magazine in their AKs.
https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/d0e7ef3b4e6eb813cbe12f8727511357b7df0bb6/0_368_5760_3457/master/5760.jpg?w=860&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&
https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/d0e7ef3b4e6eb813cbe12f8727511357b7df0bb6/0_368_5760_3457/master/5760.jpg?w=860&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&

Unless they've got a pouch on the left side, it looks like you're correct. Those AKs are older Chinese production, I believe.

davidbfpo
01-13-2016, 11:00 PM
A podcast with Andrew Lebovich (38 min) which offers his views on:
Some of the topics covered include:

The political process in Mali after the French intervention
Why there has been a rise in violence recently
Why IS has not been able to penetrate Mali like many of the other jihadi zones
Where things might be going from here

Link:https://www.lawfareblog.com/jihadology-podcast-malian-jihadi-landscape

davidbfpo
02-20-2016, 04:44 PM
Since February 14, 2016, the French Army "Barkhane Force" which operates in Mali against Islamic terrorism in Africa has deployed three LRU (Lance- Roquette Unitaire - MLRS Multiple launch Rocket System) from the 1st Artillery Regiment of Belfort. This is the first operational deployment for this type of weapon since its entry into service in 2014.
Link:http://www.armyrecognition.com/armies_in_the_world_analysis_focus/french_army_barkhane_force_has_deployed_lru_mlrs_m ultiple_launch_rocket_systems_in_mali_12002162.htm l

SWJ Blog
03-25-2016, 06:20 PM
Human Insecurity in Mali (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/human-insecurity-in-mali)

Entry Excerpt:



--------
Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/human-insecurity-in-mali) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

davidbfpo
08-01-2016, 04:35 PM
Reports from Mali are rare, so thanks to alerts from Andrew Lebovich to two reports today.

The first report is by two lady Al-Jazeera journalists who accompanied a Nigerien patrol on a supply run:http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/07/road-niger-peacekeepers-mali-160728105547305.html

The second, more in-depth, is from IIRC a long-term US resident in Bamako, the capital, via his website:https://bridgesfrombamako.com/2016/07/31/is-mali-heading-back-to-the-abyss/

davidbfpo
04-23-2017, 09:36 PM
This War is Boring article is focused on the German Army's problems with their vehicles in the heat and dust of Mali, lus their drones and armed helicopters:http://warisboring.com/malis-desert-climate-is-the-doom-of-armored-vehicles/

Then it intriguingly refers to the Malian National Guard:
The Garde’s speed and flexibility, its keeping with the principles of Sahelian warfare, combined with greater trust in Mali’s north—where the army is widely loathed—means they are today among the most effective troops in Mali’s armed forces, along with the special forces.According to the IISS Military Balance it has 2k, the Army 18k and there is a separate Gendarmerie.

davidbfpo
05-28-2017, 07:48 PM
A short report via ECFR's website by Andrew Lebovich, a previously cited SME and his slim bio is on:http://www.ecfr.eu/profile/C387

He is not optimistic and ends with:
Now, having arrived at a seemingly workable framework for peace, the general response of the international community is to focus on implementation, presuming that if only the Malian government and international partners make good on the Accords’ provisions, then stability can be restored. However, this approach risks further inflaming tensions in some cases and further solidifying local rivalries and fiefdoms in others.Link:http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_stabilising_mali_why_europe_must_look_b eyond_7293

AdamG
11-13-2017, 03:42 PM
SEAL Shenanigans
https://www.thedailybeast.com/green-beret-discovered-seals-illicit-cash-then-he-was-killed

davidbfpo
12-01-2017, 05:58 PM
An intriguing comparison and hat tip to WoTR for the article. Here is one poignant phrase:
Both the United States and France now seem stuck in intractable wars, frustrated by the apparent fruitlessness of their best efforts. The Afghan and Malian governments, moreover, bear a large portion of the responsibility for the wars’ failures.Link:https://warontherocks.com/2017/12/mali-is-frances-afghanistan-but-with-a-difference/

davidbfpo
01-13-2018, 09:41 AM
An overview article on the various international, regional and local forces deployed in the region, the Sahel, but Mali features strongly so added here.

I had missed this:
Separately, Germany is shortly to open a military base in Niger to support MINUSMA, while Italy has announced it will sent 470 troops to the country to counter people-smuggling and combat extremism.
Link:http://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2018/01/11/dozen-shades-khaki-counter-insurgency-operations-sahel

However the author's credibility is marred by labeling the first photo as French soldiers when they are clearly from Mali.

davidbfpo
02-20-2018, 07:54 PM
A brief overview of the key non-state armed actors in the region, which includes non-jihadist groups in alliance sometimes with the Mali government for example; jihadist groups and others.

Nothing is simple:
As well as hardcore jihadism, the ingredients of this region’s conflict dynamics also include long-standing and often violent rivalries, trafficking, and self-defence activities. Jihadist groups such as ISGS include in their ranks numerous members of Niger’s Fulani community, which has long been in conflict with Tuaregs in Mali. “Jihadist violence often intertwines with local intercommunal tensions related to competition over natural resources and trafficking, making it difficult to distinguish the real nature and motives of many incidents,” the ICG report after the October Niger attack.Link:http://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2018/02/15/Sahel-militant-groups-Mali-Niger-threat

SWJ Blog
02-26-2018, 05:23 AM
Conflict Resolution: The Case of Northern Mali (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/conflict-resolution-the-case-of-northern-mali)

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/conflict-resolution-the-case-of-northern-mali) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).

davidbfpo
03-14-2018, 06:34 PM
An illustration how complicated northern Mali can be.
Link:https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2018/03/tuareg-militias-again-clash-with-islamic-state-loyal-militants-in-northern-mali.php

davidbfpo
03-21-2018, 05:06 PM
A succinct summary by a Canadian academic (in the 2nd link) after Canada's decision to deploy:
Canada plans to deploy two Chinook transport helicopters and four Griffon attack helicopters to provide armed escort and protection in the fight against Islamist militants in the violence-torn West African nation.
Link:https://www.theglobeandmail.com/feeds/thomson-reuters/canada-top/canada-to-send-helicopters-troops-to-aid-uns-mali-mission/article38299902/

He ends with:
This is a simple snapshot of the conflict landscape that Canada is entering. As our forces prepare for the challenges ahead, serious questions must be asked of our government about how to ensure that Canadian blood and treasure are not wasted, and that we do not leave Mali worse off than when we arrived. Every single tough lesson from Afghanistan, Somalia and Rwanda must be brought to bear.

His three reasons in brief:
First, Mali is awash with ethnic and tribal warfare that can seem near-incomprehensible to outsiders. Secondly, while Platform and CMA clash, the Islamists in northern Mali have embarked on a unity campaign. Thirdly, Canadian forces are entering the heart of Mali’s volatile war economy, and the armed groups in the region where Canada will be based are implicated in criminal networks that traffic narcotics, humans and weapons across the region. The fact is, these ethnic militias are directly profiting from the political chaos.
Link:http://w.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-canadas-deadly-new-peacekeeping-mission-to-mali/

davidbfpo
05-03-2018, 10:10 PM
A week old, short French TV documentary (21 mins) on a three month tour to Mali by a French Foreign Legion detachment, as part of Operation Barkhane; the reporter was with them for six days and not a shot was fired.
Link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lK8T3IxQo4M

davidbfpo
05-07-2018, 07:35 PM
A recipe for perpetual conflict and not just in the Tuareg north. A quick overview after the missing vehicle for the ambush of US & Niger patrol.
Link:https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/05/07/mali-isis-islamic-state-militias-violence/546985002/

davidbfpo
06-28-2018, 12:58 PM
The first is a BBC News photo essay 'The war in the desert; Why the Sahara is terror's new front line'. IT has a few interesting, though not new quotes. This refers o the UN peacekeepers, almost 14,000 peacekeepers from nearly 60 different countries:
Different countries accept different levels of risk. Many are simply going through the motions - counting down the days, trying to stay alive, and having little real impact in a place where it’s nearly impossible to keep the peace.

Then citing the UN Force Commander: I need better equipped and better trained contingents. I need more vehicles… to protect my people against the IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and mines and so on and I need to upgrade the training level of my contingents.

Then the trade in migrants / refugees in Niger: Criminal gangs moved in and the desert tour guides became human traffickers, carrying lorry-loads of migrants north to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. This thriving industry provides both cash and cover for the radical, violent, extremist groups assembling across the Sahara.

On external funding of mosques and schools:Towering over a second meeting is a new white and green mosque, which smells of fresh paint. The UN says Qatari money paid for the building - like Saudi Arabia, here and in other parts of Africa they have a programme that provides new mosques and preachers to teach a very conservative form of Islam.
Link:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/war_in_the_desert

The references to an attack @ Timbuktu are to an attack in April 2018, so this report may have taken time to reach publication

The second article, published yesterday in 'The Guardian' is headlined: 'New terrorist threat as EU stance on migrants triggers disquiet in Niger;

Efforts to buttress Europe’s borders have left people smugglers in Niger jobless and ripe for exploitation by jihadist groups'. It opens with:
Thousands of men who transported, fed, and housed the hundreds of thousands of migrants who used to cross the impoverished west African country are now unemployed and could easily be exploited by one of the major jihadist groups operating in the region, said leaders in the remote former migrant hub of Agadez.
Link:https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jun/27/lost-jobs-rising-extremism-eu-stance-migrants-bodes-ill-niger

That is simply weird and appears to contradict the BBC report!

I will copy this to the Mali and UN Peacekeeping threads for reference.

davidbfpo
10-27-2018, 08:00 PM
In mid-July 2018 the UK deployed three RAF Chinooks to support the French in Mali, for a year; they became operational a month later and this all was publicly announced. One RUSI expert expressed concern at the commitment, cited in part:
They may have thought the commitment of a few helicopters meant 'we've done our thing', without realising it was potentially putting our fingers in the mangle...It may have looked like an easy win to the politicians, but it comes with a significant amount of risk....It is an apparently limited commitment but with a potentially large bill in the future.
Link:http://https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/20/britain-risks-open-ended-conflict-mali-bid-protect-european/.

Yesterday via Twitter based on a French MoD statement we learnt that:
So far the Chinooks have made 51 sorties, transporting over 1155 French troops, supplies and 83 tons of equipment across Mali.
Link in French:https://www.defense.gouv.fr/operations/actualites2/barkhane-les-helicopteres-chinook-en-appui-des-operations



(https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/20/britain-risks-open-ended-conflict-mali-bid-protect-european/.)

AdamG
11-04-2018, 10:20 PM
The Army has punished two members of the Special Forces team ambushed in Niger last October for their decisions before the mission and for insufficient training alongside their Nigerien allies in advance, according to military officials. Four others in their chain of command were also disciplined.

Some of those punished in recent weeks included the Green Beret team leader, Captain Mike Perozeni, and his second in command, a master sergeant. Those absent from the six letters of reprimand include the two senior officers who approved the mission and who then oversaw the operation as it went fatally awry.

The punishments appear to run counter to another narrative the Army has pushed in past months: the heroism displayed by the troops under fire. Almost all of the soldiers on the 11-man team, including those who were killed, have been nominated for valor awards, though they have yet to be approved. According to one official, senior officers at Special Operations Command believe that members of the team can be held responsible for failures before the mission and still be awarded commendations for their actions during the ambush.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world/2018/11/03/operation-niger-went-fatally-awry-who-army-punishing/cERVjrp4yqR8Y5oeEUIZcI/story.html

AdamG
11-16-2018, 02:08 AM
Nov. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy charged two Virginia Beach-based Navy SEALs and two Marines in the 2017 strangulation death of U.S. Army Green Beret Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar. The U.S. Navy accused the suspects of strangling Melgar in a chokehold after breaking into his room while he was sleeping and restraining him with duct tape they acquired from Marine quarters.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2018/11/15/Navy-charges-4-in-2017-Green-Beret-death/1941542307484/?lh=5

AdamG
01-27-2019, 04:42 PM
Canadian peacekeepers saw their busiest day in Mali on Sunday after extremists with links to al-Qaida attacked a United Nations base, killing 10 and injuring dozens more.

Five Canadian helicopters were scrambled from a different base after the attack, according to Canadian Forces spokesman Capt. Christopher Daniel, including two large Chinooks configured as flying hospitals and three smaller Griffon escorts.

"The Canadian helicopters evacuated 15 wounded UN soldiers," Daniel added in an email. They also delivered food, water and ammunition.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadians-mali-action-attack-1.4988318?fbclid=IwAR0Ka3dQW13gJZGHeoJzddECibUjSS_ c6O7fQf0ZkVTQ86ismedDlax3p-M

AdamG
02-26-2019, 10:45 AM
A European Union military training centre in Mali, where 11 Defence Force personnel are working, remainson high alert after a weekend attack from what are presumed to have been Islamic anti-western forces.

An as yet unknown number of attackers were killed in the incident. Three Malian soldiers were wounded but have since been released from hospital. No Irish military personnel were injured, according to the Defence Forces.

The attack happened at around 3am on Sunday when two vehicles loaded with explosives approached the Koulikoro Training Centre which is approximately 100 kilometres east, north east of the capital, Bamako.

The attackers approached the main, southern side, entrance gate to the centre, dismounted their vehicles and began firing.

Force protection soldiers at the centre repulsed the attack, according to the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/militants-attack-eu-military-centre-where-irish-personnel-based-1.3804694?fbclid=IwAR378xzJLD8RwP2poITbCqXHS4UeQU4 2dU7TUw9pWqmkx0qK8m55KSckYuE#.XHSCB4eF5UQ.facebook

davidbfpo
03-06-2019, 09:58 PM
I have never heard of this group the article examines:
The Macina Liberation Front has opportunistically played on perceptions of ethnic, economic, religious, and political marginalization to become one of the most active militant Islamist groups in Mali.
Link:https://africacenter.org/spotlight/confronting-central-malis-extremist-threat/

AdamG
03-19-2019, 12:48 PM
Mad Max v.2019 *


Suspected jihadists killed 21 Malian soldiers in a raid on an army camp in central Mali on Sunday, military sources said, after a dawn attack that the armed forces believe was led by a deserter.

Driving cars and motorbikes*, the attackers stormed Dioura army camp in Mali's central the Mopti region, in the latest assault on the military as the country grapples with the spread of jihadist groups and instability.


The attack was carried out "by terrorist groups under the command of Ba Ag Moussa, a deserter army colonel", according to the Malian armed forces.

https://www.france24.com/en/20190317-mali-army-al-qaeda-attack-mopti

davidbfpo
03-20-2019, 02:56 PM
hat tip to WoTR for this article, which opens with - optimism shines through IMHO:
A few weeks ago, the Danish government announced (http://um.dk/da/nyheder-fra-udenrigsministeriet/NewsDisplayPage/?newsID=69C2988D-2B7A-41B8-BC0C-D9E465E1FE94) it would submit to its parliament a request for the deployment of two medium lift helicopters AW101 and about 70 military personnel to the Sahel region as part of the French-led counter-terrorism operation “Barkhane.” Once the deployment is approved by lawmakers, as appears likely, Danish assets would join the operation in late 2019.
This announcement has received little attention, but it is significant — both for the fight against jihadist groups in the Sahel region and for the future of European defense cooperation. It provides an insight into a new approach to the project of building European defense, one that does not necessarily rely on the structures or complex institutional settings of the European Union, but instead focuses on pragmatic and operational cooperation between states.
Link:https://warontherocks.com/2019/03/what-does-european-defense-look-like-the-answer-might-be-in-the-sahel/

davidbfpo
03-23-2019, 09:03 PM
Canada has been asked to extend for three months its helicopter deployment in Mali; their role is casevac. Rumanian Puma helicopters are not ready yet, their scheduled arrival is July 2019.
Link:https://globalnews.ca/news/5086209/canada-mali-peacekeeping-mission-extension/

BBC and others report:
At least 50 people have been killed in an attack on a village in central Mali by armed men wearing traditional Dogon hunters' clothing
Links, note the first link has slightly more detail:https://www.france24.com/en/20190323-mali-100-fulani-herders-massacred-donzo-ogossagou-ethnic-violence? (https://www.france24.com/en/20190323-mali-100-fulani-herders-massacred-donzo-ogossagou-ethnic-violence?ref=tw) and https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-47680836


(https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-47680836)

davidbfpo
03-30-2019, 12:59 PM
Canada will not extend their year-long Chinook medevac deployment:https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-canada-wont-extend-peacekeeping-mission-in-mali-chrystia-freeland/

davidbfpo
04-14-2019, 02:02 PM
Two items. A film report via Al-Jazeera, which looks at the Canadian Chinook deployment and the Dutch SOF (who leave soon too):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON0-VybdyTc

Then a SME Q&A:https://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/blog/the-french-intervention-in-mali-an-interview-with-bruno-charbonneau

davidbfpo
05-30-2019, 06:45 PM
A short article by the Oxford Research Group; in summary:
China’s peacekeeping in Mali represents another example of the country's increasing willingness to send personnel into an active conflict zone and a shift in Chinese strategic thinking.
Link:https://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/blog/chinas-un-peacekeeping-in-mali-strategies-and-risks

davidbfpo
05-30-2019, 06:51 PM
An ICG report and sub-titled:
War between the state and jihadists in central Mali has led to growing intercommunal violence. To spare civilians additional harm, the government should explore the possibility of talks with the insurgents about local ceasefires and humanitarian aid – while remaining open to broader discussions.
Link:https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/sahel/mali/276-speaking-bad-guys-toward-dialogue-central-malis-jihadists

(https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/sahel/mali/276-speaking-bad-guys-toward-dialogue-central-malis-jihadists)A comment by Richard Barrett, ex-UN, SIS plus via Twitter:
ICG paper on 'Talking to the Bad Guys' in CentralMali have far wider relevance and possible applicability. Understanding and addressing what really lies behind persistent 'jihadist' violence, is the only way to end it.
(https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/sahel/mali/276-speaking-bad-guys-toward-dialogue-central-malis-jihadists)

davidbfpo
06-21-2019, 07:41 PM
An IISS overview, subtitled:
With alarming increases in jihadist violence across Mali, the situation in the country has transformed into a multidimensional crisis with overlapping conflicts and security challenges.

It ends with:
So far, the Malian and Burkinabe authorities have been unable to contain the insurgents or tackle the sharp increase in communal violence. International stakeholders – the MINUSMA, the French and the G5 Sahel – have had little success either. Failure to address the roots of the insurgency will harden communal divisions and risks further regional destabilisation.
Link:https://www.iiss.org/blogs/analysis/2019/06/conflicts-in-mali?

davidbfpo
07-22-2019, 08:26 PM
A mix of updates and with our current political focus unlikely to attract much attention:

1.
Three RAF Chinook helicopters and around 100 personnel have been operating with French forces in the north of the country since 2018, in a non-combat role. The Chinooks have provided valuable heavy-lift to the mission, a capability the French don't have.That commitment was recently extended by a further six months to June 2020, viewed as a gesture of Anglo-French goodwill post-Brexit.
Link:https://news.sky.com/story/uk-to-send-250-peacekeeping-troops-to-mali-for-dangerous-mission-11767832

Actually this was reported on the 8th July 2019 by a US website:https://thedefensepost.com/2019/07/08/uk-raf-sahel-barkhane-deployment-extended/ (https://thedefensepost.com/2019/07/08/uk-raf-sahel-barkhane-deployment-extended/)and the UK's:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/08/theresa-may-says-britain-will-remain-top-tier-military-nation/
(https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/08/theresa-may-says-britain-will-remain-top-tier-military-nation/)
Comment - nothing at all to do with Canada withdrawing its Chinooks.

2.
The UK is to send 250 troops to Mali in the biggest peacekeeping deployment since Bosnia and potentially the most dangerous mission for British forces since Afghanistan. The soldiers will form a long-range reconnaissance task group, specifically chosen for their ability to operate in small teams and in violent, contested areas of the country. They will be asked reach parts of Mali that most militaries cannot, to feed on-the-ground intelligence back to the mission headquarters in Gao. They will arrive in the country early next year.
Link:https://news.sky.com/story/uk-to-send-250-peacekeeping-troops-to-mali-for-dangerous-mission-11767832

Comment - sounds remarkably like a UK SF mission and why such a delay? Maybe additional desert training is needed and learning French!

Added a week later. A longer commentary by Oxford Research Group, with several comments by serving, if anonymous UK soldiers who have served in Africa.
Link:https://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=36cb35e0-496f-4a57-b4bf-3db118e6dfcc

davidbfpo
03-08-2020, 11:51 AM
5588

How the rate of deaths from attacks has intensified

Key
Red: Armed clashes; Purple: Violence against civilians and Brown (Feint) Explosions.
The time scale is from 2011 to 2019

Source: https://acleddata.com/analysis/

davidbfpo
03-08-2020, 12:01 PM
5589

Source: ACLED once more!

davidbfpo
03-08-2020, 12:25 PM
Actually a larger contingent (250 men) is going to Mali later this year to join the UN Mission MINUSMA; there is a RAF Chinook detachment, with three helicopters, with a 94-man based in Gao since 2018 - who support the French-led Operation Barkhane.

MINUSMA plans to have a second more active component, which will be spearheaded by the British contingent, who will carry out long-range reconnaissance patrols of up to 30 days deep into jihadist territory and be on standby for rapid deployment anywhere in the country.Citing their commander:
With a manoeuvrable force, we can be more proactive in anticipating attacks, projecting force and deterring and going in where there are confrontations...This will be a more robust, versatile part of the force that will enable us to respond decisively. The British contribution will be the tip of the spear of our adaptation.

Link (behind a pay-wall):https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/03/01/battle-sahel-new-frontline-war-terror/

An earlier story reported a Light Dragoons contingent would perform the long-range patrols, with light armoured cars and presumably 4x4 vehicles. The deployment will be for three years and was originally announced in July 2019. Not everyone is convinced, a Conservative MP who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq commented:
Our soldiers need to know why we are doing something, preferably for how long and what success looks like. And if we don’t have an end date, then we need to be clear about ‘generational missions’ and what that may entail in terms of kit, personal and training, and potential casualties that come from those missions.

Link (ditto):https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/03/02/bob-seely-warns-against-generational-missions-britain-stands/