Friday, February 08, 2013

Not Distracted By the Northern Fight

I do believe I mentioned that one reason the French had to lead the advance north in Mali was that even with training, nobody still involved in the political maneuvering post-coup would want to send their best Malian troops north away from the capital where the real fight is.

The poor discipline evident in the behavior of Mali troops sent north with the French made it clear that the best could not have been sent to fight.

Now we see that the best were kept in the south and they became upset when they were to be sent north to the fight:

In the southern capital, local residents fled in panic as heavy gunfire echoed from the Djikoroni-Para paratrooper base on the Niger River and army units with armored vehicles surrounded the camp. At least one person was killed, state media reported.

Smoke rose from the base, where mutinous members of the 'red beret' paratroop unit loyal to deposed Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was toppled in a coup last year, started firing with their weapons to protest attempts to redeploy them.

Several hours of shooting were required before calm was restored. The paratroopers were to be sent north, but not used as a single unit. The paratroopers clearly didn't want to be broken down into component units where they'd be more useful in the war. But the regiment wanted to stay together to be more capable in the fight for the Mali government.

How interested will the French and ECOWAS troops be to fight a war the Malians clearly consider a side show?

The French are welcome to this fight. Our only interest is in making sure the jihadis are killed and not in crushing the Tuaregs for the Mali government.