Mauritania – Anti-terror force in Sahel begins officer training

2018/15/11 – A military school gathering five countries in the Sahel inducted its first officers on Monday into a programme to train future leaders of a joint anti-terror force.

Thirty-five senior officers were inducted into the G5 Sahel Defence Academy, located in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, for an eight-month course, an AFP reporter saw.

« They will be trained in techniques of high command and warfare, preparing them to be promoted » to general, a Mauritanian military official told AFP.

The G5 Sahel is an initiative conceived in 2015 to roll back jihadism and lawlessness in five states on the Sahara’s southern rim.

Bringing together Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, it aims to create a 5,000-man joint force to restore authority in areas grappling with jihadi raiders and brutal gangs.

But the scheme, which brings together five of the world’s poorest and most fragile countries, has run into problems of financing, poor equipment and lack of training.

Since late last year, the French-backed force has carried out only six operations, with three more in the works.

It also has yet to win over civilians who fear retribution from the rebels if they provide support.

On June 29, the G5’s then headquarters, in the central Malian town of Sevare, came under suicide attack, causing three deaths, two of them Malian soldiers.

Its commanding officer, Malian General Didier Dacko, was replaced by a Mauritanian, Hanena Ould Sidi, who in September ordered the HQ be moved to Bamako, Mali’s capital.

About 420 million euros ($488 million) pledged at an international donors’ conference in Brussels on February 23 has also been slow to materialise.

AFP / Sahel-Elite Photo by AFP : Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Chad’s President Idriss Deby and Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore (L to R) attend a G5 Sahel summit in February 2018

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