maandag 14 januari 2013

Mijn losse-Mali-wapens-flodders en signaleringen her-en-der

On this blog information is collected about arms in Mali and connected issues such as special forces exercise and operation Flintlock. Cartoons are used as illustrations. Broekstukken is not agreeing with all text and pictures, but reproducing them as a service to readers.

The French Air Force operates four air tankers out of N'djamena in Chad, and one tanker based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, a second defense official said. The service flies an average of one flight a day of five to 10 hours per sortie to support the 12 fighters deployed: six Mirage 2000D, four Rafales and two Mirage F1 CRs.

A tanker in the air day and night would allow round-the-clock strikes, raising the tempo and denying the rebels time to rest under cover of darkness.

The average age of the French C135 FR air tanker fleet is 48 years, and it is assigned to the strategic deterrence fleet.

The French Army now has three Tiger attack helicopters in Mali, part of a total mixed helicopter force of 12. The maximumnumber of Tigers in Afghanistan was five helicopters.

As part of the ISR effort, the French Air Force is flying two Harfang medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs, out of its total four units.

The French Navy is flying four to six Atlantique 2 aircraft for ISR and targeting missions, and contributes commandoes to the special operations forces deployed on the ground.

In coalition efforts, a valuable aid would be access to the U.S. secure internet protocol router network, dubbed SIPRnet, a French officer said. That would allow direct communications between, say, a French Navy and U.S. Navy ship.

The British, meanwhile, have been 'exemplary' in cooperation and political support, the French government official said. Britain has shown it counts, the source said.

In the wake of the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, there has been a large buildup of air assets in the region, a Pentagon official said.

The U.S. contribution to ISR over Mali includes manned and unmanned aircraft, including the U2 spy plane, Global Hawk UAV and EP-3 Aries, the U.S. official said.

The U.S. said Jan. 22 it would send three C-17s to help the French effort.

Pierre Tran, Carter: U.S. Aiding France in Mali Conflict, Defense News Jan. 28, 2013

Fear of military reprisal sends people fleeing Okene

An Islamist group called Ansarul has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on some Mali-bound military troops last Saturday along Lokoja-Okene road in Kogi State. The group owned up to the crime yesterday in a local Desert Herald, which often publishes their claims.

Matthew Onah in Lokoja, Attack on Military Troops: Ansarul Claims Responsibility, 21 januari 2013

"France has drawn on a series of ad hoc arrangements with America and European allies, rather than the European Air Transport Command at Eindhoven, the Netherlands, Grand [director of think tank Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique] said."

"The Mali campaign, dubbed operation Serval, also shows the need for prepositioned bases in Africa, de Durand [directorof security studies at think tank Institut Français des Relations Internationales] said. They cost a few hundreds of millions of dollars and require a small number of troops, but they are cheaper and faster than huge fleets of C-17 and A400M transports, or securing an airport and starting from scratch.

"Countries including Britain, Belgium, Canada and Denmark have pledged transport planes to help France. Germany is not helping France directly but said it would send two C-160s to airlift African troops from a planned 3,000 strong military mission to support the Malian government."

"'They are a real force multiplier,' Viellard [director at consultancy Cie Européene Intelligence Stratégique] said. 'They allow planners to decide the where, how, what volume of intervention.' Over the Sahara, France operates an optical military satellite system for imagery, Air Force jets with reconnaissance pods and the French Navy's Atlantique 2 (ATL-2), a twinengine aircraft designed for maritime patrol but used as an ISR system. Harfang medium-altitude, longendurance UAV systems are also to be deployed soon, Viellard said."

Pierre Tran, 'Early Lessons From France's Mali Action Emerge', Defense News 21 januari 2013.

21 januari 2013

The Arab Spring's dangerous side; Disarray, porous borders and spread of arms have been a boon to militants

ABSTRACT: The mayhem in the vast desert region has many causes, but it is also a sobering reminder that the euphoric toppling of dictators in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt has come at a price.

Robert F. Worth, IHT 21-01-13

20 januari 2013

It is undoubtedly the case that the jihadist groups in the Sahel are well funded. The rewards from kidnapping alone have reportedly brought AQIM £63m or £94m over the past decade. The US Treasury has tracked the rise of ransom payments for hostages, some by Western governments, from an average of £2.8m to £3.4m between 2010 and 2011. Mokhtar Belmokhtar, leader of the Signed-in-Blood battalion, believed to be behind the In Amenas attack, has made a fortune from smuggling cigarettes, drugs and cars. Some of that money had been spent on arms including, it is believed, surface-to-air and long-range ground missiles from Libya. Yet, so far, none of these has been used in Mali.

Lt-Col Frederick, the head of French forces in Markala, who wishes to be known only by his first name, said, "So far we have not faced any missiles, or any kind of artillery. They are using AKs [Kalashnikovs] and RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades]." Nor has there been any significant use of the improvised explosive devices that brought the Taliban so much lethal success in Afghanistan. The last point is particularly surprising as AQIM's leader, Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, is an accomplished bomb-maker.

The French and Malian forces may face missiles and roadside bombs as they go further north towards Timbuktu. But the pattern seems to be that, after an initial burst of resistance, the rebels are melting away, some across the border into Niger and Mauritania.

Kim Sengupta, Brian Brady, 'West turns sights on threat in the desert; EU and US to co-operate with local governments to destroy militant 'corridor of terror', Independent, 20 januari 2013

19 januari 2013

Peter Bouckaert could hardly believe his eyes. As Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi lay dying in late 2011, rebel militias were speedily stripping the carcass of his regime of the vast arsenal of weapons that had ensured his 42-year reign.

"I've worked around the world and covered conflicts for 15 years," Bouckaert, veteran emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, told The Star last fall. "I've never seen weapons proliferation like Libya. The militias got their hands on weapons on a scale many times greater than other conflicts."

The Toronto Star, January 19, 2013: Gadhafi arsenal stoking unrest 

18 januari 2013

It took just three days for the French Army to realize that in Mali it was up against Islamist fighters better experienced and better equipped than anticipated.

"What struck us a great deal is the modernity of their equipment, their training and their ability to use it," the Elysee acknowledged Sunday [13 January]. So where do these arms come from? Several experts believe that the groups active in Mali and the Sahel have been largely supplied in Libya over the past two years.

"A considerable quantity of arms was stolen during the revolution. Light weapons, such as Kalashnikovs, but also heavy machine guns, rocket launchers and SAM type ground-to-air missiles. Stocks of grenades and explosives, including Samtex, have also disappeared," explains William Lawrence, director of North Africa Region with the ICG [International Crisis Group], an NGO specialized in conflict resolution.

Liberation website on 17 January says Malian rebels supplied with weapons in Libya, January 18, 2013, summary BBC Worldwide Monitoring

The Islamists are well armed, with AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns mounted on vehicles, as well as some armored personnel carriers seized from the Malian military.

Adam Nossiter en Eric Schmitt,' Malian rebels are everywhere but nowhere',  The International Herald Tribune,  17 januari, 2013

Tunisia seizes big arms cache in large-scale security raid

Tunisian authorities have seized a big arms cache in two depots in the southern town of Medenine and arrested two people, a local journalist told Al-Jazeera on 17 January. The arms included Kalashnikov rifles, explosives, rocket-propelled grenades, bullet-proof vests, anti-personnel mines and anti-vehicle mines, Khalifa El Hadad said in a phone interview. "A very big security force was involved in seizing the big quantity of arms," he said. While declining to make any speculation about who could be behind the arms cache, he highlighted Medenine's proximity to the Tunisian border with Libya. "Medenine is not far from the unstable security condition and proliferation of weapons in Libya, and the conflict in Mali also has an impact on the whole region. "All those factors could provide a backdrop to the big arms cache uncovered in Medenine," he explained. "The arms came from Libya, according to confirmed information," El Hadad maintained, saying the Tunisian town could be a transit point for smuggled arms bound for trouble spots in the wider region. "Despite the large-scale security operation in Medenine," he said, "the coverage of Tunisian national television of the event was a mere 20 seconds, which provoked a feeling of indignation in the town." Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 2130 gmt 17 Jan 13 provided by BBC Monitoring Middle East - January 18, 2013

In 2005, PSI was replaced by the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), a partnership of State, Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) meant to focus on improving individual country and regional capabilities in northwest Africa.

According to a Government Accountability Office study, Mali got roughly $37 million in TSCTP funds from 2005 through 2008. More than half went to Defense projects. But GAO reported that there were bureaucratic differences over the programs and funding problems. "USAID received funds for its TSCTP activities in Mali in 2005 and 2007, but not in 2006," for example. "Because it received no funds for 2006, the mission suspended a peace-building program in northern Mali," the area facing the greatest threat.

In 2006, Mali was included in the Millennium Challenge, a U.S. effort to provide economic support to countries "committed to good governance, economic freedom, and investing in their citizens." A $461 million compact provided money for agriculture and expanding Mali's access to markets and trade. It was to end on Sept. 17, 2012, but it ended in March after a military coup overthrew the civilian government. One defense element under TSCTP was Operation Flintlock, a joint exercise to train the Malian army and armed forces of Algeria, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia. It would later add troops from Burkina Faso, Morocco and Nigeria. Operation Flintlock 2005 was called the biggest exercise in Africa since World War II, involving 1,000 U.S. personnel and forces from seven countries in the region. The exercise scenario, according to a BBC story, was "a terrorist group being chased across national borders from Mauritania in the west, through to Mali, Niger and finally Chad."

A partial breakdown of spending under TSCTP showed that in 2006 and 2007, about $5 million was intended for youth programs in the north such as schools and to "expand the ability of citizens to participate in local government," said a State Department document.

Operation Flintlock exercises were held in Mali in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, Mali got equipment worth $5 million, including 37 "new Land Cruiser pickup trucks, along with powerful communications equipment" for the desert, according to a U.S. statement. Mali also received $1 million in U.S. mine-detector equipment.

The 2009 exercise, held near Bamako, the capital, marked the first U.S. Special Operations Forces use of the CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The 2010 exercise involved some 1,200 people, and U.S. Special Forces troops showed a Malian special forces team how to handle an ambush in the Sahara, a Defense news release said. The U.S. Africa Command had planned to hold a Flintlock 2012 exercise in Mali, but it was canceled because of problems in the north. Then the coup in March ended U.S. military assistance.

Even coup leader Capt. Amadou Sanogo represents something of a U.S. failure. He had participated in the Pentagon's International Military Education and Training programs, with basic training at Fort Benning, Ga.; English-language training at Lackland Air Force Base, Tex.; an intelligence course at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; and study at Quantico, Va., with the Marine Corps.

Last November, Army Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr., deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, told a Defense Strategies Institute conference in Alexandria that "we are not going to kill our way to victory" using Navy SEAL raids and drone strikes alone. What's needed, he said, are "preemptive efforts before the fight starts . . . done with [host country] partners."
Wasn't that our Mali strategy?

Walter Pincus, 'Why did U.S. counterterror effort in Mali fail?', The Washington Post, January 17, 2013

16 januari 2013

Nederland oefent bij buren Mali; Elitetroepen doen mee aan militaire training Flintlock
De Telegraaf 17 januari 2013

 In Uruzgan, de Afghaanse provincie waar Nederland jaren actief was, vochten Nederlandse commando's actief mee in de strijd tegen de Taliban en maakten lange verkenningstochten door het onherbergzame Afghaanse terrein. In West-Afrika weten zij zich geconfronteerd met minstens even uitdagende omstandigheden.

De SP heeft het kabinet om opheldering gevraagd over de inzet van Nederlandse militairen in de regio. We mogen niet zomaar een oorlog ingerommeld worden , waarschuwt SP-Kamerlid Van Dijk. De socialisten trokken al eerder aan de bel over Flintlock omdat de partij vreesde dat de Nederlanders in het geheim kunnen worden ingezet voor de Amerikaanse oorlog tegen het terrorisme. Maar volgens Defensie is dat onzin.

 Transport Inzet in Mali van elite-eenheden is absoluut niet aan de orde, bezweert een woordvoerder. De Nederlandse betrokkenheid blijft vooralsnog beperkt tot de levering van transporttoestellen. Aan transportcapaciteit hebben de Fransen een grote behoefte. Zij willen meer militairen en materieel richting de regio overbrengen.

Nederlanders trainen in gevaarlijk gebied rond Mali
AD 17 januari 2013

DEN HAAG Terwijl in Mali een bloedige strijd woedt, gaan Nederlandse militairen trainen in de grensstreek van buurland Mauritanië. Voor dat gebied geldt een negatief reisadvies vanwege ontvoeringen van buitenlanders, gevechten en terroristische aanslagen.

De 55 Nederlandse commando's en mariniers nemen vanaf medio februari deel aan de internationale oefening Flintlock. Die is onderdeel van een groot Amerikaans antiterreurprogramma in Afrika. Militairen van acht westerse landen trainen speciale eenheden uit acht Afrikaanse landen voor hun strijd tegen al-Qaeda. Ze leren schieten, patrouilleren, navigeren, verkennen en het inrichten van controleposten. Nederland doet voor de zesde keer mee.

Vorig jaar werd de oefening in Noord-Mali afgelast vanwege de burgeroorlog. Defensie zegt dat deelname dit jaar niet ter discussie stond vanwege de huidige situatie in Mali. ,,De MIVD kijkt voortdurend naar de veiligheid en we houden de ontwikkelingen in Mali in de gaten,'' aldus een zegsman.

De Nederlandse militairen zijn inmiddels naar Afrika vertrokken. Ze trainen eerst collega's in Senegal en Burkina Faso. Daarna gaan de meesten naar de eindoefening in Mauritanië, in het risicovolle zuidoosten en midden van het land. ,,Er is geen sprake van dat het er niet veilig genoeg zou zijn. We trainen op beveiligde militaire kazernes en oefenlocaties.''

Can this rebellion be stopped by air attacks? Bombing arms dumps and concentrations of rebels may hinder their advance but AQIM can only be quelled by troops on the ground who have the support of locals. At present the Malian Army is weak and lacks morale. That means the French will probably have to provide the core of a force that includes soldiers from other West African countries. They may get help from Tuareg nationalists but they remain untrusted. Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Minister, has said the action in  would be over "in a matter of weeks". These are words he may regret.
Today Mali, tomorrow Nigeria for al-QaedaRichard Dowden, The Times

15 januari 2013

"Fowler (voormalig gijzelaar van Al Qaeda in de Sahara (AQIM) en huidig gezant voor Niger) beschrijft in zijn boek dat zijn gijzelnemers het eentonige woestijnlandschap van Noord- Mali  op hun duimpje kenden. Ze reden dagenlang door valleien van vrijwel identieke zandduinen met de zon als enige navigatie. Hoewel er geen tankstations waren, zaten ze nooit zonder brandstof. Soms stopten ze ineens bij een boom waar vaten met diesel begraven lagen. Of ze begroeven een tas met laarzen en markeerden de plek met GPS zodat ze hem terug konden vinden. Ze zaten nooit zonder voedsel, terwijl ze nooit bij een winkel of markt stopten, wat aantoont hoe omvangrijk hun netwerk met materieel en proviand is."

Wat met olie kan is ook mogelijk met wapens en munitie.

Pauline Bax,  NRC Handelsblad,  15 januari 2013,  'Al-Qaeda wil chaos in heel N-Afrika';   Interview Canadese diplomaat Robert Fowler zat 130 dagen gevangen bij Al-Qaeda in Mali

Ottawa is also indirectly helping Mali through Exercise Flintlock, an annual U.S.-run military training exercise for West Africa.
The Harper government is already in the early stages of providing military training to neighbouring Niger, one of the top countries providing soldiers to help fight the rebels in Mali and a participant in Flintlock.
Canada has sent almost two dozen Canadian Forces special operations personnel to train Niger troops in reconnaissance, land navigation, marksmanship and other basic military skills. The training will start in Niger, but the Canadians and troops from Niger will move to Mauritania for Flintlock, an approximately three-week exercise starting in late February. The Canadian trainers are expected home after mid-March.
Mr. Harper played down any connection between Canada's Niger training efforts and the help to Mali, suggesting one wouldn't blur into the other. "They are not directly related to that. They will proceed in the normal fashion and they will terminate in the normal fashion."

STEVEN CHASE and CAMPBELL CLARK, Canada joins mission to Mali; Vowing commitment will be limited, Ottawa sends military aircraft to transport French combat forces, The Globe and Mail (Canada), 14 januari 2013

14 januari 2013


Special forces oefening/operatie in West-Afrika wederom met Nederlandse deelname. Commando’s en mariniers naar oefening in Afrika | Ministerie van Defensie 55 militairen van het Korps Commandotroepen en het Korps Mariniers vliegen deze maand naar Afrika voor de Amerikaanse oefening Flintlock 2013.&nbsp

Zie ook:

14 januari 2013

Islamist rebels 'outmanoeuvred' Algeria in Malian crisis, says paper (Zine Cherfaoui, 'Casting error?' in El Watan website on 14 January tranlation: BBC Worldwide Monitoring  January 14, 2013)

Algeria was naive to think that it could persuade Ag Ghali, the head of the Ansar Eddine Islamist group, whose acolytes now control several towns in the Azawad, to renounce violence and negotiate wisely with Bamako a political settlement to the Malian crisis. Yet, such an error of judgement is difficult to explain. Algeria is a country that has paid a heavy price in the struggle against terrorism. Everybody now knows for quite a long time that one cannot really trust an armed Islamist group. The jihadists have tried hard to get rid of their natural traits but the latter quickly came back. The proof: while his emissaries to Ouagadougou were asking for more time in order, they said, to better prepare for a dialogue with Bamako, the head of the Ansar Eddine movement was on the verge of issuing orders to his troops to melt in the ranks of the Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb [AQMI] legion and of the movement for unity and jihad in West Africa [Mujao] to rush in a beeline movement towards the locality of Konna.

Obviously one can always try to talk about the reasons that convinced Iyad Ag Ghali, this mysterious personage that has become a master in the art of manipulation and stabbing in the back, to break his promise made to Algiers just 15 days ago that he will spare no effort to extinguish the Malian fire for good, and to take up  arms again against Bamako. But the facts are here: despite Algiers warnings, Ansar Eddine joined ranks again with the AQMI and the Mujao to "punish" Bamako, which is guilty, according to them, of failing to get seriously involved in a quest for a solution to the crisis. The current situation shows, at any rate, that the Ansar Eddine leaders have misled their Algerian contacts and that they have their own agenda.

But then has Algeria proved to be right in the end to promote dialogue in this conflict that broke out at its borders? Yes, obviously. It would be a serious mistake to think for one moment that the Malian crisis will be settled solely by arms. However, there seems to have been a casting error in the choice of certain protagonists of the crisis. Was it indeed a good idea to try at any cost, for some reason that still eludes all, to place Ansar Eddine at the forefront and to marginalise the others actors of the Azawad who are, yet, much more prone to engage in politics?

France says airstrikes in Mali stalled rebel push The International Herald Tribune, 14 januari 2013, Steven Erlanger and Scott Sayare (...) The spokesman, Lt. Col. Diarran Kone, said that some civilians and Malian soldiers had died in the fighting in recent days. ''Zero deaths is not possible,'' he said. He said the rebels, whom he called ''terrorists,'' had suffered heavy casualties, and French officials said one French pilot had died from small-arms fire.

Canada's military involvement in Niger has already commenced. A heavy-lift C-17 transport plane is currently in Africa where it's delivering Special Operations personnel to Niger for preliminary training and preparation for Exercise Flintlock, an annual West African training exercise sponsored by the U.S. military.
The exercise, aimed at helped West African countries fight terrorism, will take place in Mauritania in February and March, the Canadian government says.
The Canadian contingent of defence personnel participating in Flintlock 13 will number fewer than 24.
They'll train the Niger Armed Forces in reconnaissance, land navigation, marksmanship and other basic military skills. The training will start in Niger but the Canadians and troops from Niger will move to Mauritania for Exercise Flintlock.
Major Douglas MacNair, a spokesman for Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, said Canada will not train Malian forces. But, he noted, the U.S. war exercise will help stabilize the region.
"Flintlock involves the capacity building of several countries within the Sahel region. As Niger shares a border with Mali, strengthening the capacity of Nigerien Armed Forces contributes to regional security."
The annual Flintlock exercise takes place in different western African countries each year. Canada last participated in 2011. The 2012 exercise, which was supposed to take place in Mali, was cancelled because that country's army was busy responding to attacks from Tuareg separatists.

STEVEN CHASE, GEOFFREY YORK and COLIN FREEZE, Ottawa to train forces in Niger; France sends combat troops to Mali to counter the growing power of Islamist fighters in the West African country
The Globe and Mail (Canada), 12 januari 2013