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4th EUTM-Mali (European Union Training Mission in Mali)

The members of the Parachute Brigade who make up the current contingent of the Protection Force supporting the European Union Training Mission in Mali are getting acquainted with their new surroundings and with the tasks they have been assigned. Since their deployment in early May they have been in charge of providing security at the training camps in Koulikoro and of protecting the European instructors training the Malian soldiers.

The contingent, made up of soldiers from the 2nd Parachute Battalion “Roger de Lauria”, relieved a previous contingent composed of troops from the Climbing Skiers Company of the 64th Mountain Light Infantry Regiment “Galicia”. It is part of the Protection Force to which Spain is contributing three sections and the Belgian Army, the remaining two and the top brass.

Their five-month mission is slightly different from that of their predecessors. They will be leaving the facilities at Koulikoro on a regular basis in order to provide security at other locations such as Bapho and Kati. The change is the result of a new philosophy of decentralized training.

The current contingent of instructors is under the command of Lieutenant Colonel José Luis Descalzo and includes twelve Special Operations and ten Fire Support instructors. Over a period of ten weeks, they have moulded the character of the Malian soldiers and instilled them with the knowledge they need to become capable and skilled troops. The main challenge the instructors have faced was training the officers and NCOs of the Malian army so that they in turn become capable of training the units under their command.

On 22 August a ceremony was held at the Koulikoro training camps to mark the fact that the Debo Battalion, made up of 610 Malian soldiers, was ready for combat.

The programme, dubbed “Train the trainers”, includes five phases over which the Malian soldiers are formed in a range of specialties – a total of eleven, e.g. Signals, Infantry, Artillery, Special Operations and First Aid.