Monday, January 14, 2013


US aircraft are supporting France in attacking Al Qaeda forces operating in Northern Mali. In retaliation, the Islamists have pledged to attack at the "heart of France". According to the article below, Mali is supportive of France's (and thus the US) intervention in Northern Mali.

Military intervention here has the very real possibility of turning Malin into what Afghanistan has become for the United States; a ground war with no real end in sight. Are troops really leaving Afghanistan in 2014? Well yes and no according to a piece on NPR last week. The majority of troops are due out in 2014 (perhaps in time to assist the French with Mail?), however a contingent of US commandos will remain for an undetermined amount of time assisting Afghani forces in killing Al Qaeda. This moves seems more in keeping with austere budget cuts for the military that are to begin this year than with any type of military success in Afghanistan.

The United States involvement in this action comes at an odd time. The Deparemt of Defense is going into sequestering which would ground aircraft and call ships back should it go into effect. “[W]e have no idea what the hell’s going to happen,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta bluntly said during a briefing at the Pentagon on Thursday. “All told, this uncertainty, if left unresolved by the Congress, will seriously harm our military readiness.”

In the Daily Report from AF Magazine, it states "According to the Jan. 7 memo (from the service's leadership to Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter), signed by Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force can no longer simply hope Congress will avoid the postponed sequester and is therefore taking steps to blunt the effects, which in any case will have "immediate and devastating impacts to readiness." Specifically, since combat units must have top priority, the Air Force will apply the mandated spending cuts to any units not in Afghanistan or spooling up to go there, "sacrificing preparedness for contingencies or [operations plans]," states the memo. The 18-percent reduction would be applied "disproportionately across the force," causing some units to "stand down for extended periods," with a possible "flying standdown from late July through September," wrote Donley and Welsh."

Despite warnings from both Panetta and the USAF, the Obama administration has the United States involved in yet another contingency.  The Mali government is perhaps one of the most pro-West governments in the region and since 9/11 has tried to prevent the northern provinces from becoming a haven for terrorists.  Unlike Libya, Mali is not a major oil producer.  Its main strategic mineral is gold.  It remains to be seen if the joint US/France military operations will result in a reduction of Al Qaeda activities.  More likely, it will result in terrorist attacks in France and perhaps even the US.

Marine Corps Times


Quimbob said...

How are the French getting into Mali? Is it all air or do they have bordering allies for land transpot?

Bob Baylor said...

It appears they are based in France since US forces are helping with air refueling. Ground forces are already in country.