The Czech Army in Mali Supports Training, Education and Social Centres
Just before handing command over to Spanish colleagues, Czech troops serving in EUTM Mali mission managed to complete several more projects that will help improve the training of the Malian army and support local education and social centres. The projects were also coordinated by a specialist for civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) from the Czech protection unit, the core of which consists of members of the 131st Artillery Division from Jince.
The chief of the ACR liaison army handed over a reconstructed training centre to the Malian liaison officers
On January 7, 2021, Brigadier General František Ridzák ceremoniously handed over the reconstructed training centre for liaison expertise of the Malian army. It was a project which, through the EUTM mission, was financed by the Czech Ministry of Defence in the amount of approximately 2.5 million crowns. As part of the project, two connecting classrooms, offices, a server room and a computer room were completely repaired, which the Czechs equipped with a computer network to support the military command and control system. This system is called C2OPS. The delivery also included teaching equipment, furniture and air conditioning units, everything necessary for the smooth running of the training centre. From the remaining funds, a perimeter wall for the training centre and an entrance gate were built.
The ceremony was also attended by Colonel Daoud Aly Mohammedine, Deputy Chief of Genereal Staff of the Malian Armed Forces, and Colonel Elhalif Coulibala, Director of Communication and Information Systems of the Malian Army. “I emphasize the importance of the newly introduced C2OPS system to support the conduct of operations as an absolute necessity. The close link between the liaison and operational communities is inseparable,” General Ridzák explained to the Malian soldiers in his speech.
Equipment for the social centres of the Malian National Guard and the Engineer Regiment
Another project that Czech soldiers implemented from the funds for quick-impact projects was the acquisition of sewing machines for tailoring, hairdressing equipment and office furniture for the social centres of the Malian National Guard and the Engineer Regiment in Bamako. These facilities are used by widows and orphans left after Malian soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty. They are important community centres located in Malian military bases, offering job opportunities as well as opportunities for meeting up and relaxation.
This project was ceremoniously handed over by the chief of staff of the mission, Colonel Václav Vlček. “Although the Czech Republic is sixteen times smaller than Mali, it significantly contributes to the financing of various projects in Mali. We will continue to support the development of social centres,” added Colonel Vlček. Colonel Mohamed Fofana, director of the Army Social Service, on behalf of the Chief of General Staff of the Malian Armed Forces, thanked the Czech soldiers very much for this gesture of solidarity.
Continuation of the story with the “Czech” school in Bamako
In July of this year, Czech soldiers once again supported a local school in Bamako, which was founded by a Czech woman. Dana Bartáková moved to this West African country in the 1960s with her Malian husband. She spent most of her life educating children. After thirty years of experience in education, she decided to start her own kindergarten. Over the years, it has grown into an entire educational complex.
During the first visit to Mrs. Bartáková’s school in July, Czech soldiers brought school supplies sent to Mali by children from the Zdeňka Braunerová’s Primary School in Roztoky u Prahy and other schools cooperating with the Stonožka children’s movement. Now Czech soldiers have brought more sophisticated equipment from Stonožka, such as a microscope, a centrifuge, beakers, measuring cylinders, test tubes, pipettes and other school supplies. “We need these things mainly for teaching chemistry, such equipment is not available in Bamako or in the whole of Mali,” lamented Mohamed Ludvík Touré, school principal and Mrs. Bartáková’s son, and thanked General Ridzák and the Czech soldiers on behalf of the whole school. “You children represent the future of Mali, learn and do not forget to study foreign languages that will open up new opportunities for you to travel to be inspired by other cultures,” said General Ridzák in his speech to the children.
We keep on helping
It is not just these projects. There is a reconstruction of the medical infirmary for Malian soldiers at the Koulikoro training base currently underway. An obstacle course is also planned in the area of the Malian base of the 6th military region. The base is located in Sévaré in the central part of Mali, where the focus of Malian training is shifted so that the training takes place near the places of deployment of the Malian army and thus better meets the operational needs of Malians.