NATO Confirms Direct Role in Mali War

Rick Rozoff Task Force. Menaka Base, Mali. Daphne Benoît, AFP

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization reports that the NATO Support and Procurement Agency signed a Framework Technical Agreement with the Takuba Task Force in Mali in Luxembourg on June 9.

The task force has been a de facto NATO operation since its inception. The contributing nations are NATO member states Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal, and NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner Sweden.

The U.S. has been involved in war against ethnic Tuaregs in Mali since the beginning of the century. Former colonial master France was in charge of NATO nations’ troops under Operation Barkhane.

In addition to the U.S. and France, the other two members of NATO’s Quad, Germany and Britain, are also involved in the war in Mali and neighboring Niger.

Berlin has recently announced that it was expanding its military training mission in Mali, increasing its troop numbers there and setting up a military hospital. It has also provided fifteen armored vehicles to the Niger armed forces and will send 100 instructors to that nation to train Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected crews. German naval commandos are training Niger’s special forces and the Luftwaffe has an air base in the country as part of the United Nations’ Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) operation.

Britain recently deployed 400 troops to Mali, the beginning of a three-year mission there. British forces are not only supporting the UN mission but actively participating in French-led counterinsurgency operations as well.

The meeting of NATO and the Takuba Task Force was attended by a French delegation headed by led by Air Vice-Marshal Laurent Marboeuf, head of Joint International Affairs, and other senior officials of the French Defense Ministry.

According to Peter Dohmen, general manager of NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency:

“The signing ceremony is a key milestone after months of teamwork between NSPA and the French Army. We are grateful and honoured for the trust bestowed on the Agency. This an excellent opportunity for the Agency to strengthen its capacity to support NATO allies and partners, wherever is required.”

NATO personnel will be deployed to Mali this summer and will supply a camp in the east of the country.

This marks at least the fourth formal NATO mission in Africa. The first three were the airlifting of African Union troops to Sudan (Darfur) in 2005, the airlifting of African Union troops into Somalia in 2010 for the war there, and the seven-month Operation Unified Protector air war against Libya in 2011.