It Takes a Year to Prepare a Unit for Mali, Czech Troops are Successful in Africa
Last week, there was the first comprehensive field training held in Libavá for soldiers from Hranice, who will head to Mali in November. Due to the coronavirus, it focused mainly on medical training and on welding small units together by practising tactical drills. For these members of the 71st Mechanized Battalion, this is the first deployment on the African continent, but about half of the 60-member contingent already has experience from abroad.
“I recently successfully completed a Komando course and enlistment in this unit is another highlight for me in my military career so far. It is another challenge in which I can apply the experience gained,” says Lieutenant David C., future commander of the 1st Protection Unit.
Czechs are successful in Africa
In Mali, specifically in the EUTM training mission, the Czechs have been very successful since 2013. Last year, it was commanded for the first time by a Czech – Brigadier General František Ridzák – and the Czech Republic is interested in repeating this valuable experience in the second half of 2022. The EUTM currently has 81 troops in the capital Bamako and at the Koulikoro training center.
“The main task of the unit is to help with the construction and training of the Malian army, improve its tactical readiness, protect the EUTM mission headquarters and protect the training base, as well as escort VIPs,” said Captain Jindřich Paleček, who conducted training at Libavá.
Last week, troops from Hranice focused mainly on drilling tactics. According to Paleček, they can encounter a number of crisis situations in Mali, and it is important to ensure the correct reaction not only of the individual, but of the entire team. “Everyone has to know how to react on their own and they also need to know how their colleagues in the unit will react,” he described.
Due to the coronavirus, only small groups were allowed to train together in Libavá, and the commanders had to adjust also the objectives and tasks of individual types of training. In addition to tactics, the soldiers also trained patrolling in open terrain and dangerous areas, activities at checkpoints and medical training. This included first aid and the transfer of the wounded.
Preparation for Mali takes 12 months
The training in Libavá was the beginning of the unit’s joint preparation. However, the soldiers have been preparing for Mali since last November: “It starts with the selection of people for individual table positions, then begins individual training – i.e. the courses that are needed for the position,” explained Jindřich Paleček, adding that the command also completes a several-day internship directly at the place of deployment.
However, it is not enough to just prepare the staff well. The basic order and all other documentation are formed. Of course, there are also several stages of vaccination and testing for narcotics and psychotropic substances. “The phase of individual training ends in May, until the end of September there is a phase of intensive joint training, the main part of which is joint training in training areas. Everything culminates in the final certification in mid-September. Everything considered, the preparation of soldiers for the mission takes 12 months,” said Paleček.