There is a place in Africa that is less than others in the international spotlight but which remains strategic for the fight against Islamic terrorism and as a gateway to be controlled by the masses of illegal immigrants headed to Libya for Europe via Italy. And the Mali,
Country located in the interior of West Africa and landlocked. Mali borders Algeria to the north, Niger to the east, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast to the south, Guinea to the south-west and Senegal and Mauritania to the west. Qi are present military contingents from various European nations including France (5,000 men) and Italy (200 men) with the official training rule of the Malian troops. But then there is the control of the territory. The Italian military has just completed a massive training operation between heaven and earth.
Cn the overflight of the helicopters, 1 CH-47F “Chinook” and 3 AH-129D “Mangusta”, in quartet formation on the Forward Operating Base (FOB) of Menaka, what is called in military jargon has been reached Full Operational Capability (FOC) by the Italian contingent deployed in the slippery, in the political sense, the Sahel area, as part of Operation Barkhane, expression of a French-led international coalition.
Since July 2021, when the deployment of the Italian contingent made up of highly trained troops began, an intense training activity was launched aimed at strengthening interoperability with the other departments of the coalition. About 200 Italian soldiers are operating in the context of the Task Force Takuba, guaranteeing medical evacuation capabilities of coalition personnel in operation through the use of the 3 CH 47 F transport aircraft of the 1st Army Aviation Regiment, which in turn make use of the necessary coverage ensured by the 3 exploration and escort helicopters AH – 129D “Mangusta”, of the 5th and 7th regiments of the Army Aircraft Brigade, framed in the “JACANA” Task Force under the orders of Col. Andrea Carbonaro, first Commander of the Italian contingent in Mali.
TF JACANA also counts on Guardian Angel rifle teams from 66th Army Regiment committed to maintaining the safety of the CH 47F evacuation helicopters from the aircraft. The Italian contribution is completed with the availability of a role 1 health structure with pre-hospital capacity, with a team that ensures medical support for all coalition personnel and with the presence of the National Support Element.
The mission of the TAKUBA task force is to train and assist the Malian Armed Forces in the fight against jihadist armed groups, in order to counter the terrorist threat in the Sahel. The Italian participation in Takuba, in addition to providing a contribution to the strengthening of security capacities in the Sahel region, also responds to a need to protect national interests in a strategic area of priority importance. Read, in fact, a passageway for hundreds if not thousands of migrants. In fact, the Sahel is a crossroads with a massive presence of terrorist groups and marauders, who support themselves economically through the management of trafficking of all kinds: drugs, weapons and human beings directed above all towards Europe. Its stability is therefore crucial as the area is at high risk also due to the repercussions on the security of Europe itself.
Then there is a non-secondary problem that hovers in mid-air. The Malian government intends (if it has not already begun to do so) to partially cover its backs from terrorists by hiring Russian mercenaries from Wagner, a danger that puts France and Italy in fibrillation because it represents an indirect opening to Putin. On 15 December the last French soldiers, nine years after the intervention in this country, left Timbuktu one of the most important bases now sold to the Malian military. A handover that represents an unknown. President Emmanuel Macron in fact, last July he announced a cut of the French military presence in the Sahel with the closure of the bases in Northern Mali and the progressive withdrawal, by 2022, of the French soldiers of the Barkhane mission. To date, the French army has already closed its bases in Kidal and Tessalit, in the north of the country, but maintains its presence in Gao.
According to various analysts, the Mali-Russia agreement, which would allow Moscow to broaden its influence in Africa western, provides for the dispatch of about one thousand contractors. According to Reuters, the agreement between the military junta and Wagner should be worth 9.15 million euros a month and would guarantee the Russian company access to three mineral deposits, two of gold and one of magnesium. The Russian mercenaries would then take care of the training of the Malian armed forces (Fama) and of the personal protection of some senior public leaders of the country. This is why a European stronghold remains strategically necessary and fundamental in those parts.
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