Takuba task force goes into action

The new initiative will seek to strengthen security in the Sahel
A group of French Army soldiers patrol the Sahel region

AFP/MICHELE CATTANI  -   A group of French Army soldiers patrol the Sahel region

The response to terrorism in the Sahel continues to be based on the joining of military forces from various countries involved. The new special force called Takuba is a group of units designed to accompany Malian soldiers in the fight against the jihadist terrorists present in the region.

Takuba will be ready and operational as of this Wednesday, July 15, initially with a hundred Estonian and French soldiers, as confirmed by Florence Parly, the French Minister of the Armed Forces. The aim is to help the Sahelian security forces to gain autonomy and response capacity against jihadist elements present in the area. "France is launching the Takuba special force, made up of mixed Sahelian and European units that will go into combat together," Florence Parly said in an interview with the daily La Croix, confirming that they will be "ready to act from July 15, 2020. For its part Belgium is due to assign three soldiers as liaison officers there, it was officially announced.

Thus, the special Takuba force composed of mixed Sahelian and European units will enter into operational service on 15th July. Integrated into operation Barkhane, Takuba will operate from three military bases of the Malian Armed Forces located in Gao, Ansongo and Menaka.

Already this Wednesday, a hundred Estonian and French military will train on the ground with Malian units. Later, in October 2020, a second contingent of some 60 members of the Czech Republic's special forces will join the detachment. And as early as January 2021, a third contingent consisting of 150 Swedish soldiers will join the commands empowered to fight radical jihadist terrorism. 

Takuba's detachment is being set up as a European military task force that will advise, assist and accompany the Malian Armed Forces in coordination with the G5 Sahel allies (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) and other international actors on the ground.

On March 27, 2020, the governments of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Mali, the Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom issued a political declaration expressing their support for the creation of a working group, integrated into the command of Operation Barkhane, with the objective of attacking terrorist groups in the areas of eastern Burkina Faso, southwestern Niger and a small portion of southeastern central Mali. Under the name Takuba, the working group will advise, assist and accompany the Malian Army, in coordination with the G5 Sahel partners and other actors such as the United Nations (UN) mission called MINUSMA, as well as the European Union (EU) missions EUTM Mali, EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger. 

Cuartel general del G5 Sahel
AFP/SEBASTIEN RIEUSSEC - G5 Sahel Headquarters

Takuba's deployment was scheduled for this summer of 2020, with a working group composed mainly of European special operations forces with a high level of autonomy, and therefore the time has come for its implementation. 

The task force was established at the request of the Nigerian and Malian Executives in the context of a deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region. 

Faced with the security crisis in the Sahelian region, France has been a major player in containing the terrorist threat. In 2012, there were terrorist and radical movements that posed a threat to the security and national integrity of Mali, which risked losing control of a large part of its territory on a lasting basis. At the request of the Malian Government, on 11 January 2013, France launched Operation Serval in support of African and Malian forces. Its aim was to push back terrorist groups in northern Mali.

In view of the expansion of terrorist groups throughout the region, in particular the Islamic State of the Great Sahara (EIGS), affiliated with Daesh, and the Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), affiliated with Al-Qaida, Operation Barkhane replaced the Serval mission on 1 August 2014. Its aim was to provide French forces with greater support for the G5 Sahel member States in the fight against terrorism. The French forces are working closely with the Sahel armies in this framework. To assist the Malian Armed Forces, from 2020, alongside the special forces of European partners in Mali, the special force Takuba is now arriving, under the command of operation Barkhane.

The current international alliance is intervening in the Sahel to prevent this area from becoming a focus of instability and insecurity due to the spread of terrorist groups and the proliferation of different types of drug and arms trafficking, human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants, among other criminal activities.