BRUSSELS — European Union countries agreed Jan. 17 on a legal basis for a Common Security and Defence Policy mission to support the training and reorganization of the Malian armed forces. The mission would be launched by mid-February.
EU countries appointed French Brig. Gen. François Lecointre as mission commander. He is expected to send a technical team to Bamako, the headquarters for the mission, within the next few days to speed up preparations for the mid-February launch.
The costs of the operation, which is due to last 15 months, are estimated at 12.3 million euros ($16.3 million). The training is to take place in a dedicated location northeast of Bamako.
EU Training Mission Mali will train and advise the Malian armed forces on command and control, logistics and human resources, as well as on international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians and human rights. The mission will not include combat operations.
“We need to train and restructure the Malian Army. The need for a professional Army under civil control is more urgent than ever there,” a senior EU official said Jan. 16. The original plan called for 250 trainers plus some 200 personnel for force protection, but “we are now reviewing whether that is enough.”
There are three other areas the EU is looking at to help Malian forces defend themselves:
Support for an African international force and how to expedite the EU’s financial support for it.
The EU is speeding up its review of what it can do for the Mali government financially.
Diplomatically, the EU is working with the Economic Community of West African States, with a meeting due to take place Jan. 20.