UK Sends Troops to Mali and West Africa
The UK is to deploy about 350 military personnel to Mali and West Africa to support French forces, No 10 has said.
This includes as many as 40 military advisers who will train soldiers in Mali and 200 British soldiers to be sent to neighbouring African countries, also to help train the Malian army.
French-led forces are continuing their offensive against Islamist militants who seized northern Mali last year.
Downing Street has repeatedly insisted there is no question of British units getting involved in fighting – but the UK Labour party has called for further clarity on what part the UK might take in the French-led mission.
The UK also offered to set up a combined joint logistics HQ in Mali, however so far the French have declined this offer.
A Number 10 spokesman said the UK government was doing what it could to support the French military intervention, "contributing to both Malian training and training forces that are involved in providing a regionally-led approach".
This is supposed to be, according to statement noted in the piece, to be a short-term deployment. However, despite assertions about the need for clear parameters for the mission, one can’t help but note that all deployments of this nature seem to start with such assertions, but the messy nature of such situations make clarity rather difficult.
Still, the French are already signaling that the mission may soon be done. Via the NYT: With Timbuktu Retaken, France Signals It Plans to Pull Back in Mali
The French president, François Hollande, suggested on Monday that French troops might soon stop their northward advance, leaving it to African soldiers to pursue the militants into their redoubts in the desert north. “We are winning this battle,” Mr. Hollande said in televised remarks. “When I say, ‘We,’ this is the Malian army, this is the Africans, supported by the French.”
He continued, “Now, the Africans can take over.”