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Mali - Military Personnel

Mali's army remains overstaffed wth ghost soldiers, though no-one knows by how much due to years of phantom payrolls. Mali's armed forces numbered some 7,000 as of 2004. Early in January 2012, a rebellion started under the label of MNLA, National Movement of Azawad Liberation. It took 3 months for the army to be defeated and sent back to the capital, Bamako. Mali's Army had been trained in the Trans-Sahara counterterrorism program, and yet they collapsed very quickly.

The European mission of military training, EUTM Mali began work in early April 2013; Its task is to train and advise the Malian armed forces under the control of the legitimate civil authorities, providing: the formation of units of the Malian armed forces; training and advice in command and control, the supply chain and human resources, and in the field of international humanitarian law, protection of civilians and human rights. The headquarters of the mission is located in Bamako and the training takes place on Koulikoro camp (60 km north-east of Bamako). The initial term of office of the mission was set at fifteen months. More than 200 instructors will be deployed, as well as support staff and a protection force, totaling around 500 people.

The EUTM Mali (European Training Mission of the Malian Army) was launched on 18 February 2013 following the adoption by the UNSC of Resolution 2085. It currently has a strength of about 578 soldiers including a dozen French. It has 27 contributing States including 23 members of the European Union. The third term will last until May 2018. Its mission was part of the EU's global approach to strengthening security in Mali and the Sahel. Its role was to provide support for the training and reorganization of the Malian armed forces in order to improve their military capacity with the objective of restoring and guaranteeing the territorial integrity of Mali under the control of the civil authorities, without participating in the combat actions.

It was based on two pillars. First, strategic advice to decision-makers of the Malian Ministry of Defense regarding command and control, logistical support, human resources, operational readiness and intelligence.

Second, formations training for the benefit of the Malian armed forces in Koulikouro training camp. The mandate provided for the formation of Combined Battlegroups composed of 6 to 7,000 soldiers. In 12 weeks, Europeans must train Malians who arrive without previous training to be deployed in the north to fight against terrorist groups. The first two weeks are devoted to fundamentals, the basis of specialized training (infantry, engineering, commando, logistics, etc.), followed by training in small groups. The training concludes with three weeks of exercises per specialty and a final synthesis exercise for the entire battalion. There was no mentoring: deployed members are not destined to participate in combat missions and did not accompany Malian units in operations.

Since the beginning of the mission, by 2016 seven Malian battalions had been trained and equipped, four of which have already benefited from a re-training cycle. The system showed some adaptability including the formation of specialized units, special technical training and training for management. EUTM Mali hads trained more than 7,500 soldiers. Cooperation with Malian and international partners, and in particular with Barkhane, allowed feedback on the performance of the Malian armed forces and an adaptation of the training and training provided.

Engaged in northern Mali at Kidal, the first formed battalion was unable to maintain its positions against Tuareg armed groups, while it was reportedly in numerical superiority, which shows a certain fragility. The quality of this training was strongly criticized by MEP Javier Nart in an interview given on May 16, 2016 in Brussels. It deplores, in particular, the lack of operationality of the training, the lack of motivation of the soldiers and the officers, an essentially defensive and insufficiently offensive training, a lack of weapons to conduct the training, which makes the training purely theoretical, the poor experience of the instructors of the reality of terrain and combat.

The poor operational nature of the military formations dispensed did not allow the Malian armed forces to resume their positions in northern Mali and they continue to be under pressure from armed groups in the center of the country.

In January 2016, the President of the Commission and Head of Defense Ibrahim Bo Keita announced the implementation of measures for a military investment plan of CFAF 1,230 billion. This plan was part of the "Military Orientation and Programming Law (LOPM - loi dorientation et de programmation militaire)", which was approved in February 2015. The law provides for a modernization of the Malian armed forces (FAMa) and the commitment of 10,000 volunteers. This decision should increase the number of FAMa to 20,000 by 2019.

During the debates held during the plenary session on the adoption of the ordinance N 2016-020 / P-RM of August 18, 2016 of the Law of Orientation and Military Programming (LOPM), the question on the quality of men of rank has come back several times. Going straight to the point, the Minister Tina Coulibaly, clarified, for deputies, the main problem which undermines the good evolution of our FAMas. According to Minister Tina Coulibaly, the Malian army is now paying the price of the intrusion of officers, ministers and deputies in recruiting the army. In the process, far from revealing a secret, he will say that after taking office, his very first meeting with the Chief of General Staff of the Armies, he would have understood through the exchanges with the latter that the army suffers from the quality of his men.

In order to moralize recruitment in the army, the reform is strict on the rules. Hence the proposal for the creation of a commission dedicated to recruitment with clearly defined and certified criteria. Recruitments that will take place in all the hamlets throughout Mali. "We want soldiers from Mali and not from Bamako." Recruitment will no longer be from a general or a commander. It is the will of the military. If possible, the MRI can be introduced (a technique for detecting age), the high grade is suggested.

The existence of compensatory housing allowances (LCI) enhances the military's moral, psychological and combat capabilities. Another advance, the State grants the ICL, pending the construction of camps worthy of the name where will be housed at least 90% of FAMa. The 15% increase in the soldier's wages represents the risk premiums related to military life. Henceforth, this constitutes a substantial but important salary element, according to several observers of the military life.

Led by the French armies, in partnership with the G5 Sahel countries, Operation Barkhane was launched on August 1st, 2014. It is based on a strategic approach based on a logic of partnership with the main countries of the Sahel-Saharan strip ( BSS): Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina-Faso. It brings together some 4,000 military personnel whose mission is to support the armed forces of partner countries in their efforts to combat terrorist armed groups in the BSS and to foster African ownership of crisis management.

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