The EU Resumed Training in Mali with Immediate Effect with the Help of the Czechs

 25. 10. 2020      category: Army of the Czech Republic

Following the decision of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) of the EU in Brussels, the activities of the training mission in Mali are resumed with immediate effect. All personnel will also return to the mission. The mission was significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the August coup.

Vojáci devátého úkolového uskupení mise EUTM
Picture: Our soldiers in Mali (illustrative photo) | army.cz

COVID-19 has also significantly affected the activities of the training mission in Mali, which is now commanded by the Czechs. In April, half of the mission staff had to go home and activities slowed down considerably. They were limited to providing advice to the Malian Armed Forces at a strategic level, providing logistical support and protecting the headquarters and the training camp. The training of Malian soldiers had to be reduced to the bare minimum. Despite the very limited possibilities, the training of instructors of the Malian army could be continued.

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Picture: EUTM Mali - resumption of training activities and return of personnel to the mission | army.cz

The pandemic also affected some European soldiers in the spring and the mission headquarters had to be literally locked for a short time. However, the immediate response from the command managed to bring the pandemic under control, evacuate the patients to their home countries in time and ensure a limited operation of the whole mission.

The Czechs convinced the headquarters that the training had to be resumed

In mid-June, when the Czechs took command under already strict hygienic measures, they knew that one of their main tasks would be to resume the training activities and create conditions for the implementation of a new, fifth, mandate that would expand the area of operation across Mali and increase staff and budget.

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Picture: EUTM Mali - resumption of training activities and return of personnel to the mission | army.cz

The Czech command managed to convince the headquarters in Brussels that the training must be resumed, in compliance with all hygienic measures, and not wait until the pandemic subsided. They succeeded and received an approval to start training activities with the return of soldiers, which was to take place in several waves. However, a coup came in August and the return of troops to the mission and all training of the Malians had to stop again.

The coup complicated the situation

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions on Mali and set a number of conditions that had to be unconditionally met – the appointment of a president for a transitional period, a prime minister and a government that would lead the country to democratic elections in 18 months. The Czech Command actively participated in a series of negotiations with the European Missions Directorate in Brussels, the European Union embassies in Mali and other partner countries, and monitored the political situation and developments within the local Ministry of Defence and the General Staff. The conditions for easing the embargo were finally met by Mali.

The troops will return to the mission in early November, there will be more than a thousand of them

The Czech mission commander, General Ridzák, ran a marathon of negotiations and managed to gather all the documents for the Brussels headquarters, which also helped the mission return to normal. "This moment has just come, we have been instructed by the Director of EU Military Missions, Admiral Hervé Bléjean, to return to our original capabilities before the start of the pandemic and resume training," the Czech commander explains, continuing: "Despite all obstacles, we continued, among other things, to prepare for the training of new structures for the benefit of the G5 Sahel Joint Forces in close cooperation with their commander, General Oumara Namat.

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Picture: EUTM Mali - resumption of training activities and return of personnel to the mission | army.cz

EU countries soon received a call to begin relocating their staff designated to return to Mali. The troops will begin returning to the mission in early November in two intense waves. The mission will reach its full "pre-pandemic" status in mid-November. Under the new mandate, the staff will be gradually increased next year from the original seven hundred soldiers to more than a thousand.