US donates Vamtac armoured vehicles to Mali

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The United States has donated two Vamtac armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to Mali under the US Antiterrorism Assistance Programme (ATA), which provides US government antiterrorism training and equipment to law enforcement agencies throughout the world.

The US Embassy in Mali on 29 November said the vehicles and five pallets of spares were presented to the Special Intervention Group of the National Gendarmerie (GSIGN) by Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Nicholson.

The Vamtac is a 4×4 APC built by Spain’s Urovesa and capable of carrying seven personnel. The US Embassy said the vehicles will be used solely for deployed teams in central Mali to allow them to conduct arrests and patrols more effectively in their area of operation.

The delivery of these two new vehicles marks the culmination of a $3.6 million assistance package that began with the delivery of 46 Hesco base protection barriers for the two central Mali locations where the GSIGN is stationed; the delivery of three Quad cab trucks and three single cab trucks and spare parts to facilitate their ability to move about and patrol certain areas in difficult terrain; and the delivery of one vehicle/support package to include a heavy-duty logistics truck, a kitchen trailer, a shower/restroom trailer, a 30-person tent with netting and spare parts.

In his remarks to Director General of the National Gendarmerie Colonel-Major Sambou Minkoro Diakite, Nicholson said, “We believe this capacity building enables Malians to lead their own development. Since 2016, the United States Embassy Bamako has supported the GSIGN to effectively prevent or respond to terrorist attacks in Bamako, and to establish a counterterrorism operational presence in the regions of Segou, Mopti, and Koulikoro. The GSIGN presence in these areas provides rule of law and denies safe haven to terrorists operating in central Mali.”

The United States regularly donates vehicles and equipment to African nations. For example, in August, US Army Major General Jami Shawley, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), visited Mogadishu to hand over 24 OTT Puma M36 vehicles to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) at its Headquarters.

An OTT Puma delivered to ATMIS.

“To support ATMIS Djiboutian contingency’s efforts in the fight against terrorism with our Somali partners, the United States is providing the 24 Puma Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and Harris Radio communication equipment to enable more frequent patrols, and transportation,” Shawley said in reference to the fight against terrorism in the region.

“This equipment will increase the ability of the Djiboutian contingent of ATMIS to protect Somalis from Al-Shabaab violence and extortion,” said Larry André, US Ambassador to Somalia.

A month later, in September, the United States handed over eight Puma M36 vehicles to Niger’s military to help that country in its fight against terrorism, along with 43 Toyota Land Cruisers and other equipment worth $13 million.

“The United States of America has just donated a significant amount of equipment to strengthen the capacity of the Special Forces Training Centre in Tillia and the Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ouallam, two strategic entities in the fight against terrorism,” Niger’s ministry of defence said in a statement.

Defence Minister Alkassoum Indattou said the donated equipment would go to the border with Mali.