Home > Contact > EUTM Mali: the stakes of a training mission

EUTM Mali: the stakes of a training mission

Published : 2 April 2013
413 words in that article

The first contingent of Malian soldiers arrived today in Koulikoro (60 kilometers North-East of Bamako) where instructors from the European training mission EUTM Mali were waiting for them.

The European Mission has a double objective:

  • help and advise the Malian Defense high officials to reorganize the local Armed Forces,
  • To educate and train 4 battalions of the Malian Army, i-e less than 3 000 people, within a 15-month period of time.

EUTM Mali consists of around 550 soldiers coming from 22 European countries, including 200 instructors and 150 soldiers dedicated to Force protection (among them 34 Czechs). The commanding officer is French Brigadier François Lecointre.

The stakes of this Mission are important. The European instructors have to give some coherence to the local Armed Forces whose morale and cohesion have been ruined by the politic instability of the last years.

Divided by ethnic factors, the Malian Armed Forces lost control over the Sahelian region from spring 2012. They came back in those Northern territories following the French-led operation Serval which is fighting against Islamists from mid-January 2013. But they are far from being operational as it was seen during Easter weekend when Islamists performed several attacks in Timbuktu and Gao.

The next 15 months will be crucial to give back to the Malian Armed Forces a core of trained troops. But we should not be naïve, training and equipping 2 700 soldiers will be far from sufficient to ensure that a country big 1.42 million square kilometers will get a sufficient defense capability.

The international community will have to support Mali a longer time. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon recently proposed that the AFISMA (African-led International Support Mission), that has limited financial capability, should be transformed into a UN Peace-Keeping Mission completed with a parallel force dedicated to the fight against terrorists. The UN Security Council will address this topic around mid-April and in case of approbation, the Blue helmets could be in charge from next July.

However, despite the international efforts to stabilize Mali, the solution will only come from the Malians themselves. New presidential and legislative elections should be organized in July 2013. The new President and the government nominated after the elections will have to solve the Tuareg question, which has always been a source of instability, without endlessly arguing about petty ego questions. It will be then tempting to get rid of the international monitoring and the Europeans will have to take care in order not to be exploited.