France and its partners have officially launched the Takuba task force, made up of European special forces that will fight terrorist groups in the West African region of the Sahel alongside Malian and Nigerien forces.
Major General Pascal Facon, Force Commander of the French-led Operation Barkhane, visited the Gao base in Mali at the weekend to officially inaugurate the new premises of Task Force (TF) Takuba. An example of strong cooperation between European countries, this Task Force will eventually be a desert tactical group integrated into the Barkhane command structure but endowed with particular expertise, the French defence ministry said on 20 July.
Having passed its first operational milestone, IOC (initial operational capability), on 15 July, Task Force Takuba was tasked with advising, assisting and accompanying in combat conventional units of the Malian army in the fight against armed terrorist groups. A Malian company was also recently appointed and is completing its training before joining Takuba in a few weeks.
Composed of European special forces, it will complement the actions carried out by Barkhane for the benefit of the Malian armed forces (FAMa), the French Ministry of Defence said.
The first elements of French and Estonian special forces arrived in the Sahelo-Saharan strip in early July. About sixty soldiers then took delivery of their vehicles and equipment. They recently settled into their new premises at Gao.
“Takuba, this is it, let’s go!” Facon said when addressing the French and Estonian special forces and Malian personnel. “I’m especially happy to report this IOC today. We still have a lot of work to do. As you know, Czech soldiers must join us from October”.
Other European contributions, notably Czech and Swedish personnel, are expected in the coming months. France also plans to increase its contribution by the end of the year.
Led by the French military, in partnership with the Sahel G5 countries, Operation Barkhane was launched on 1 August 2014. It brings together around 5 100 soldiers whose mission is to fight armed terrorist groups and support the armed forces of partner countries.