British to Send Troops to Mali


Downing Street has confirmed that around 350 British military personnel will be sent to Mali to assist with the French-led intervention. From the BBC

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.

The U.K. has already assisted with the intervention in Mali, having already contributed C17 transport planes and surveillance aircraft to support French and Malian forces.

Putting British troops on the ground in Mali is only a part of the U.K.'s planned increased involvement in Mali. British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond has said that British support for the intervention in Mali is growing, saying that the extended support would include continuing to allow the French to use planes for surveillance and transport, allowing U.S. aircraft used in logistical support to refuel in the U.K., providing a transport ship, and sending £5m for the training of Malian soldiers. The Labour Party, the British government's opposition, supports sending troops to Mali.

Downing Street has said that British troops will not play a combat role and will only be involved in training and logistical support.

The announcement comes shortly after French and Malian troops secured Timbuktu, where Islamic militants burned ancient manuscripts before withdrawing.

As the French and Malian forces continue to advance their enemies are becoming increasingly diversified. Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that Arabic-speaking fighters are commanding many northern rebels, the latest sign that Al Qaeda is taking a more direct leadership role in the conflict. While the conflict might have begun with Tuareg rebels claiming northern Mali as their own it has developed into a fight that now includes fighters who want to establish a "jihadist Islamist emirate" in northern Mali.

With Al Qaeda's involvement Malian, French, and British officials should prepare for a style of warfare similar to what has been seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. While many of the Tuareg rebels have allied with the French thanks to Al Qaeda's participation in the conflict the recent Algerian hostage crisis shows the damage a comparatively small number of militants can inflict. 

A State Department official recently said that the French intervention in Mali could last for years. Considering that the French appear to be succeeding with their mission in their former colony it is bemusing that the British government is seeking to get involved in a conflict that could potentially last for years. 

NEXT: Ray LaHood to Step Down as Transportation Secretary

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Boots, on the ground?

    How quaintly 20th century of them.

  2. The British government like the American government is going deeper and deeper in debt yet they seem to find money to spend for both military and foreign aid around the world.

    1. The empire won’t rebuild itself.

  3. Control all cities and hunker down for years of guerilla warfare.

    1. Er, not a lot of countryside to wage much guerrilla warfare from…the Sahara? Now, if the Frogs and Brits decide they want to go clean up all the Taureg, then they deserve whatever happens to them.

      Once you get past the arc from Goundam, Bourem and Gao, there isn’t crap out there.

  4. “The Indian Army will make short work of a lot of niggers.”

    – British commander Arthur Aitken just before his white ass was handed to him in German East Africa, 1914

  5. How come whenever reporters refer to “the historic city of Timbuktu,” they never mention that it became historic mainly because it was a central node in the Muslim slave trade? Eh? Eh?


  6. “Well, lads. The Frogs have gone a cocked up again. Looks like we’ll be putting things right as usual. The bad news is, we don’t get to loot French wines and cheeses. The good news is, we don’t have to sleep with French women.”

  7. The Tuareg have 100 year old grievances. If those had been dealt with fairly, then there wouldn’t be a civil war for Al Queda, France, and other nuisances to intercede in.

    1. “The Tuareg have 100 year old grievances.”

      We like fighting, and our most profitable export is mercenaries?

      Well, yeah, they get crapped on like the Roma in Europe, but whatareyougonnado?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.