Posts tagged ‘French troops’

AFRICA: Mali Developments

France in Mali

French Rafales jets in Mali.(Copyright French Ministry of Defence)

French Rafale jets in Mali.
(Copyright French Ministry of Defence)

Fighting against Islamist extremists in the mountains of northern Mali is turning out to be taking longer than first projected, says French officials who acknowledged today (Feb. 28) that their troops will likely remain in the North West African nation until July, the Associated Press reports.

The French military intervention, which began with helicopter and fighter jet airstrikes Jan. 11, was expected to be a quick in and out operation — officials had been talking about a March pullout. But now several French officials tell the AP that the 4,000 French troops in Mali will have to stay longer.

German Mali Mission Approved

Germany's Transnall aircraft have provided  transport services in Mali.(Bundeswehr photo by Bicker)

Germany’s C-160 Transall aircraft have provided transport services in Mali.
(Bundeswehr photo by Bicker)

German lawmakers have given their permission for German military advisers to begin training Mali’s battered army. The mission was approved by lawmakers Feb. 27. As many as 350 German troops could be sent to Mali. About 180 troops will provide training, while another 150 German troops will provide logistical support including air transport and aerial refueling. But German troops will not be deployed in combat operations, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Weller (DW).

German troops have had some experience in Mali. Between 2005 and the military coup last year that spiraled into unrest and chaos, Bundesweher (German Federal Defence force) advisers have been permanently stationed in Mali, the German defense ministry told DW. Those advisers help Mali’s army set up an engineers unit.

Top Insurgent Commander Killed?

Algeria(CIA World Factbook)

(CIA World Factbook)

French forces fighting in Mali are believed to have killed a top commander of al Qaeda’s North Africa wing according to an Algerian TV channel, Reuters reports. The TV channel said Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, was killed in operations against Islamist fighters in northern Mali. The television channel Ennahar of Algeria said Abou Zeid was among 40 militants killed three days ago near the border with Algeria. Reuters said Ennahar is well connected with Algeria’s security services. French and Chadian troops have been trying to dislodge fighters from northern Mali since mid-January.

February 28, 2013 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

AFRICA: U.S. Troops in Niger to Aid French in Mali

White House Informs Congress

Map of Niger(CIA World Factbook)

Map of Niger
(CIA World Factbook)

U.S. troops have been deployed to the North African nation of Niger to aid French military operations against Islamist militants in neighboring Mali.

In a letter to congressional leaders today (Feb. 22) President Barack Obama said approximately 40 military personnel entered Niger two days earlier — with Niger government approval — bringing the U.S. contingent in the desert nation to 100.

Obama said the U.S. troops were in Niger to “provide support for intelligence collection” and “facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali.

The announcement confirms previous news reports that the U.S. was setting up an airfield in Niger to accommodate unarmed surveillance drones to monitor the situation in Mali and elsewhere in the region.

The Pentagon’s news service reported that most of the U.S. contingent were Air Force specialists. U.S. Africa Command recommended placing unarmed drones in Niger “to support a range of regional security missions and engagements with partner nations,” the American Forces Press Service reported.

Last month, the United States and Niger signed an agreement on the status of American forces in Niger.

Niamey, Niger's capital, at night.(Photo via wikipedia)

Niamey, Niger’s capital, where the drone base will be located.
(Photo via wikipedia)

French forces began an airstrike campaign last month — at the request of Mali’s president — against insurgents who were threatening the West African nation’s  capital, Bamako. The U.S. Air Force began airlifting French troops into Mali shortly after the French began their counter insurgency campaign.

Mali has been in turmoil since a March 22 military coup emboldened Tuareg separatists to sweep down from the north and take control of more than half of Mali. The largely secular Tuaregs nationalists were shouldered aside by hardcore Islamist militants shortly after their battlefield successes against Mali’s army. The extreme Islamists, like Ansar Dine which has linked to al Qaeda and other terror groups, introduced strict Muslim religious law in the captured territory, and meted out harsh punishments like limb amputations and floggings.

Obama notified House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, that he was sending in the troops “in furtherance of U.S. national security interests.”

Ancient home in Zinder(Photo by dotlavi from Milano via wikipedia)

Ancient home in Zinder [see map]
(Photo by dotlavi from Milano via wikipedia)

February 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm Leave a comment


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