Bonn — Germany wants to send military trainers and medics to Mali and support operations there with transport and tanker aircraft, according to a Feb. 19 decision by the Cabinet in Berlin. Final approval rests with the German parliament, which is expected to cast a positive vote at the end of the month.
The country wants to support the European training mission to Mali with up to 180 soldiers. The German military is supposed to secure medical support for 450 European soldiers with a field hospital. The Bundeswehr will also send specialists to train pioneers and medics of the Malian Army.
The Cabinet also decided to extend its ongoing support of the military operations in the country. Currently, the Bundeswehr operates three Transall C-160 transport aircraft from neighboring Senegal. They are limited to transporting African troops to two airfields in Mali. Germany has already been criticized for this lack of direct support of French operations as well as its late arrival in the conflict.
The new mandate would allow the transport aircraft to operate anywhere in Mali. They can also directly support French forces assisting the African-led International Support Mission to Mali. On request of its ally, Germany also will send tanker aircraft to refuel French planes in the area. This mandate includes up to 150 soldiers.
Both mandates will run until Feb. 28, 2014, and are expected to cost about 55 million euros ($73.41 million) combined. The parliament would have to decide at that time whether to prolong operations.