General Ridzák Spoke at the French Course of the General Staff
Even during the Christmas holidays, the EUTM mission in Mali is in full swing, and the training of Malian soldiers takes place in several places at once. One of the interesting pre-Christmas activities was also a lecture by the Czech Mission Commander Brigadier General František Ridzák for students of the French course of the General Staff, who, as part of a study internship, visited Mali.
The Centre des hautes études militaires, the so-called CHEM, loosely translated as “Centre for Advanced Military Studies”, headed by Director General Lieutenant General Patrick Destremau, is a French educational institution which was established in its current form in 1952 from individual military schools for ground, air and naval forces that had been founded already in 1911. This centre trains the highest-ranking officers, who are destined for positions with the highest responsibilities, both in international and interdepartmental structures. Practically, it prepares officers who will become generals in the future. It could be said that this is similar to our Czech course of the General Staff.
This year is the 70th year of this course. Thirty military colonels, gendarmerie colonels, and colonels from the Armed Forces Inspectorate and the Directorate General for Armaments are usually trained in the course. Five foreign students always take part in the course, this year there are representatives from Germany, Belgium, Italy, the USA and the United Kingdom. During the two-day conference in Mali, the students of the course got acquainted with the commanders’ experiences from their operational deployment. The commanders of the French Operation Barkhane, the EUTM and EUCAP missions, the United Nations Mission MINUSMA and the Commander of the G5 Sahel Joint Forces spoke as part of the course. The Malian Armed Forces were represented by the local ground forces commander.
The most extensive training in the history of the EUTM
General Ridzák introduced the students to the EUTM mission and also shared his experience with the command of this international mission. He described in detail to the audience the new mandate, which expands the area of operation throughout Mali and now allows support for the training of armies of the G5 Sahel states. He also acquainted them with the organizational structure and the training system, and passed on his experience with the operation of the mission even during the August coup. Last but not least, he described the successful fight with COVID-19 while fully deploying elements of the mission across Mali.
“Despite all the unprecedented problems we faced in the mission, we continued to train under strict measures. Towards the end of the year, we managed to start parallel training in the most remote places of Mali at once, from Menaka, through Gao, Timbuktu, Sevare, Banankoro to Bamako. Such extensive training has not yet taken place in the history of the EUTM. What is also a great success are our training activities at the non-commissioned officer school in Banankoro, where we trained military instructors for the first time, and finally the integration of the EUTM mission into the structure of the Malian General Staff,” says General Ridzák.
At the end of the conference, the director of the institute, Lieutenant General Patrick Destremau, thanked the Czech commander for the seminal presentation. “I commend you for your personal approach and exemplary commitment as European Mission Commander in Mali, General, in launching the implementation of the new mandate. It is clear that not only France but the entire European community is involved in the Sahel,” concluded the general.