Three questions to Our Guests
In this section we ask three questions to the guests of our Sahel Seminars.
Lt Col Yssouf Traoré
Perspectives on the Malian army and the G5 Sahel
What could make the Malian army more effective in countering violent extremist groups?
The most important challenge is developing the capabilities and combat functions of the Malian Army to effectively deny violent extremist organizations sanctuaries and safe havens. The Malian army must be able to gather, disseminate and exploit intelligence through the acquisition of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets (ISR). It also needs to be able to move and maneuver quickly over great distances integrating ground and air units to protect its lines of communication while adapting its logistics to the nature of the terrain.
How should the money received from the international community for the G5 Sahel be spent?
The money should go to developing the capabilities of the Malian Army through engagements with experienced and skilled western armies. For example, this could be done through training and advice, during joint missions. I also think that the acquisition of technologies that proved to be essential in counterinsurgency operations which took place in the Middle East should be a priority.
What are the main tactical challenges faced by the Malian army when fighting in the Northern regions?
In Mali, violent extremist organizations are often elusive. They hide in villages and among the population, using Improvised Explosive Devices and ambush tactics. Another challenge is related to the size of the area of operations. Violent groups have access to safe havens in places that are out of reach, such as the Adrar des Ifoghas Mountains in Northern Mali, or out of sight thanks to forest cover. They also have accomplices among the armed groups which have signed the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.
This interview has been edited by SRG.