BONN — The German government wants to extend its support for international and French operations in West African Mali, possibly including A310 MRTT-type tanker aircraft, military trainers and medical personnel.
Germany’s Air Force has already sent three C-160 Transall ESS transport aircraft with 75 soldiers to Dakar, Senegal. Their job is to transport troops of the Economic Community Of West African States to the Malian capital Bamako and Sevare-Mopti. In this context, the government made it clear on Jan. 16 that these troops would not support French forces in Operation Serval, the name given to the effort to defeat Islamist rebels in the country.
For the near future, the German government also plans to support the European Union training mission for Mali. This is expected to consist of about 40 personnel to train Malian forces in operations such as bridge building or mine clearance.
After a meeting on Mali in Bruxelles on Feb. 5, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière told the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel that Germany also offered a military field hospital with about 40 medics and soldiers.
Besides its involvement in international operations, Germany also wants to help the French Air Force directly. Currently, Germany’s A310 tanker aircraft are undergoing the certification process needed for the aerial refueling of allied aircraft, such as Rafale and Mirage fighter jets.
These additional offers still need approval by the German Bundestag. The German Cabinet may make final decisions on some of these issues during a Feb. 19 meeting. The parliament then could vote at the end of the month.