Takuba Task Force

The Takuba Task Force was a European military task force placed under French command, established to advise, assist and accompany Malian Armed Forces, in coordination with G5-Sahel partners and other international actors on the ground.[1]

Takuba Task Force
Equipe cynophile au Mali (Opération Barkhane).jpg
French troops during combat operations in Gao
Active27 March 2020 – 30 June 2022
Country European Union (>600 troops)

 Belgium (3 liaison officers)
 Czech (60 troops)
 Croatia (soon)
 Denmark (70 troops and 2 helicopters)
 Estonia (95 troops)
 France (~300 troops)
 Greece (Soon)
 Hungary (up to 80 troops)
 Italy (1 medical support unit, 200 to 250 troops and 8 helicopters)
 Lithuania (20-30 Troops and 1 C-27J Spartan)
 Netherlands (several liaison officers)
 Portugal (2 staff officers and 20 troops)
 Romania (50 troops in T4 2021)
 Sweden (150 troops and 3 helicopters)
 Germany

 United Kingdom
BranchDefence forces of the European Union
TypeSpecial Forces
Size600 troops (May 2021)
Part ofSpecial Operations Command (France)
Garrison/HQGao and Menaka (Mali)
EngagementsMali War
Commanders
Current
commander
Colonel Peder (SWE)
Notable
commanders
Général de brigade aérienne Philippe Landicheff

TTF operated from Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) bases located in Gao, Ansogo, Menaka and N’Djamena in Chad.[2] On 30 June 2022, the task force ended its mission in Mali during the withdrawal of French forces involved in Operation Barkhane.[3]

The genesis of a European taskforceEdit

On 27 March 2020, the governments of Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Mali, Niger, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom issued a political statement expressing support for the creation of a task force, integrated to the command of French operation Barkhane, aiming at tackling the terrorist groups in the Liptako region, a historic region falling in eastern Burkina Faso, southwestern Niger and a small portion of southeast central Mali. Under the name Takuba, the task force will advise, assist and accompany Malian Armed Forces, in coordination with G5-Sahel partners and other international actors on the ground, including the UN mission MINUSMA, as well as the EU missions EUTM Mali, EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger.

Origin of the nameEdit

The name of the Task Force is originated from the takuba sword that is used across the western Sahel, the task force was established at the request of the Nigerien and Malian governments against the background of a deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region.[4]

Operational historyEdit

Takuba is working closely with Barkhane and the local forces of the G5-Sahel. On the 15th of July 2020, the Task Force declared its IOC,[5] subsequently followed by its FOC the 2nd of April 2021.

The TF took part in the "Opération Solstice", jointly with French and Nigerien forces, against the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).[6] The european forces operated without the malian ULRI they usually fight with. This was made in order to reinforce the cooperation with Niger. The operation was successful, taking 13 motorcycles, more than 30 light infantry weapons, 50 communication devices and material used in the confection of improvised explosives devices (IED). 6 jihadists were killed and 2 others captured, which were close to the emir of the ISGS.

The Swedish QRF was reportedly engaged multiple times, not only in reaction but was also involved in pre-planified operations.[7]

Early in September, the ULRI 3, accompanied by the TG1, conducted a harassment operation[8] against an armed terrorist group. The Malian maneuver was described as “tactically remarkable” by the French.

Mid-September, the French, Czech, and Swedish Task Group conducted an operation[9] alongside the Malian forces in the Menaka region in order to characterize the terrorists networks responsible for IED attacks and to disturb the terrorist groups inside their own AO.

OrganisationEdit

PC - Menaka-Based European Command Center led by France with Belgian, Czech, Estonian, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Swedish officers.

PF - French Protection Force of the Menaka Camp.

SOST - Special Operations Surgeon Team, based in Menaka.

TG1 - Franco-Estonian unit. Based in Gao.

TG2 - Franco-Czech unit. Based in Menaka.

TG3 - Swedish QRF. Based in Menaka.

TG4

TG5

Contributions to the Task ForceEdit

First intentionsEdit

Deployed in summer 2020, the task force is mainly composed of European special operation forces with a high level of autonomy. So far, contributions have been pledged by Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal , Romania and Sweden.[10]

From that list, only France, the "nation-cadre" of the Task Force is permanently deployed.

The core of the Task Force: French, Estonian and Czech participationsEdit

The Task Force is primarily formed by two task groups : the TG1, a Franco-Estonian unit, and the Franco-Czech TG2. These groups are supported by the Swedish Rapid-Response Force, named TG3. Each of the task groups support an ULRI (Unité Légère de Reconnaissance et d'Intervention), a type of light unit from the Malian forces operating with rifles such as the AK-47 and the AK-74M. These units use motorbikes and toyotas as their primary vehicles.

The Europeans TG train and fight with the malian units. In addition to that, 2 other groups, TG4 and TG5, are still in formation in July 2021.[11]

The Czechs are expected to prolong their commitment to Takuba following an announcement[12] made the 30th of September 2021 by the French minister of Armed Forces.

Swedish Rapid Response Force: The Scandinavian participationEdit

In addition to the French and Estonian units (at first 50 troops, but now 95 men[13]) already operating in the region, a Swedish contingent consisting of 150 men and 3 UH-60M helicopters is deployed since the first quarter of 2021. The Swedish troop contribution to Task Force Takuba is a helicopter-borne rapid-response force, largely manned by operators from the SOG, ready to be deployed if something unforeseen occurs. The task force is also used for other operations, as for example to support other countries that exercise and conduct operations with the Malian army.

The Swedish 150-strong unit can be increased by another 100 troops if necessary. The task force comprises special forces’ operators, personnel from the special forces support units as well as personnel from conventional units.[14] A small group of Norwegian soldiers are confirmed to join the Swedish unit in fall 2021.[15][16] Norway wanted to join Takuba from the start but faced initially a setback from its parliament.[17] The nation is already active in the Sahel region with an air detachment consisting of a C-130J. In February 2022 the Norwegian Minister of Defense stated that the country will not contribute soldiers to the Takuba force.[18]

Denmark is sending 2 EH-101 Merlin helicopters, up to 70 troops and one or two staff-officers.[19]

European Balkans participation: Greece and RomaniaEdit

On November 20, 2020, during an informal meeting of the defense ministers of the European Union (EU), Greek Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos read a report on the situation in the Sahel and specifically Mali. He emphasized the common interest of European nations for stability in the Sahel. The Greek Foreign Minister stressed the common interest of the member states in achieving stability in the Sahel and enhancing security in the wider region, supporting the gradual resumption of Joint Security and Defense activities in Mali as an integral part of the EU regional strategy. Greece is preparing to send a military unit to Mali to join the French military forces and carry out operations against jihadist terrorists, in an operation separate from the EU's mission.

The Greek mission will be small and will involve Special Forces personnel who will be an addition to the TAKUBA Operational Force (TF TAKUBA). Greece is expected to send Special Forces from the Special Paratrooper Unit (E.T.A.).[20][21][22]

Recently, Romania and Croatia approved a contribution, starting T4 2021, with 50 troops and equipment.[23]

The Italian participationEdit

The deployment of Italian forces to Takuba began in March 2021 and will reach the IOC (Initial Operationnal Capability) before September, according to the Italian minister Lorenzo Guerini.[24] They are based in Gao and Menaka and will perform mainly recon and MEDEVAC tasks. This is essential for Takuba in order to be independent from Barkhane. A total of 8 helicopters are coming with the Italian troops. 4 of which are transport and the others are A129 Mangusta attack helicopters. The engagement limit has been upgraded, from 200 to 250 troops and from 20 to 44 vehicles for the 2021-2022 period. This means that, on average, 150 soldiers will be on the ground.

The estimated expenses for the mission are 49 million euros. Costing, per month, 1,2 million euros for the personnel and 1,4 millions euros for operating cost. In addition to that, the investments and deployments expenses are estimated to be 23 million euros.

The Italian government is also planning to expense the mission from 2022.

Liaisons officers in Takuba: Belgium and the NetherlandsEdit

3 Belgian liaison officers (2 in Mali and 1 in Chad) have been integrated since April 19 to the staff of the Takuba Task Force according to Belga agency. The Netherlands also sent liaison officers to the force's staff.[25] Belgium will also send a surgeon officer from September to November 2021.[26]

Portuguese ContingentEdit

Portugal will send an initial contingent of 2 staff officers and 20 special forces.[27] These special forces belong mostly to the army but also involve navy special forces and are known as the 1º Contigente Nacional Takuba (1st National TAKUBA Contingent).[28][29] Between the 4th and the 8th of October, this contingent held a preparatory exercise called "GAO211" for their TAKUBA deployment.

In 2022, the Portuguese Government may increase the size of the Portuguese deployment if deemed necessary.[27]

Hungary's contingentEdit

Hungary will engage up to 80 special forces in Takuba in the first trimester of 2022.[30] But a preparatory deployment of approximately 20 soldiers will take place before the end of 2021.

It will be a two year commitment to the European mission led by France. There will be rotations every 4 months until December 2023.

Lithuania's commitmentEdit

The Lithuanian defense minister, Arvydas Anusauskas, announced[31] on 20 September 2021 that his country will send 20 to 30 troops and a C-27J Spartan to the Sahel for the Takuba Task Force.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Formation de la Task Force Takuba - SECRETARIAT PERMANENT DU G5 SAHEL". www.g5sahel.org. Retrieved 2020-05-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "Task Force Takuba: European Special Forces in the Sahel". November 25, 2021.
  3. ^ "EU's Takuba force quits junta-controlled Mali". France 24, Agence France-Presse. France 24. 1 July 2022. Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  4. ^ "Joint Press Statement: Task Force Takuba: Launching Ministerial Meeting" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-05-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Armée française - Opérations militaires [@EtatMajorFR] (2021-09-08). "La Task Force #Takuba c'est : 2⃣ emprises : Gao et Ménaka et 1 DL à Ndjaména 8⃣pays alliés : 🇧🇪🇨🇿🇪🇪🇫🇷🇮🇹🇳🇱🇵🇹🇸🇪et sous peu 🇩🇰et 🇳🇴 Environ 6⃣0⃣0⃣militaires européens Objectif : entrainement et combat contre les GAT avec les unités maliennes Découvrez les détails de la TF Takuba ⬇️ t.co/7FqnKxuIqM" (Tweet) (in French). Archived from the original on 2021-10-05. Retrieved 2021-10-10 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ "Opération Solstice contre l'EIGS. Takuba entame sa coopération avec les Nigériens". B2 Le média de l'Europe géopolitique (in French). 2021-07-06. Retrieved 2021-07-24.
  7. ^ Gros-Verheyde, Nicolas (2021-07-14). "Dans les coulisses de la task force Takuba (Ltt-Col. François)". B2 Le média de l'Europe géopolitique (in French). Retrieved 2021-07-24.
  8. ^ Armée française - Opérations militaires [@EtatMajorFR] (2021-09-19). "#Barkhane | L'Unité légère de reconnaissance et d'intervention n°3 FAMa, accompagnée par le Task Groupe 🇫🇷 🇪🇪 de la TF #Takuba, a conduit une opération de harcèlement d'un groupe armé terroriste. Ce partenariat de combat a permis de conduire une manœuvre tactique remarquable. t.co/YFcCMKqbMX" (Tweet) (in French). Archived from the original on 2021-10-04. Retrieved 2021-10-10 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Armée française - Opérations militaires [@EtatMajorFR] (2021-09-25). "#Barkhane | Mi-septembre, les Task Group 🇫🇷 🇨🇿 et 🇸🇪 ont conduit une opération aux côtés des @FAMa_DIRPA dans la région de Ménaka. Objectif : caractériser les réseaux terroristes responsables des attaques IED contre la Force et perturber les GAT dans leurs zones d'action. t.co/nvijYA5PKT" (Tweet) (in French). Archived from the original on 2021-10-04. Retrieved 2021-10-10 – via Twitter.
  10. ^ "Communiqué Task Force Takuba: réunion ministérielle de lancement". www.defense.gouv.fr. Retrieved 2020-05-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ Gros-Verheyde, Nicolas (2021-07-05). "Task-force Takuba : les Européens sont là. Ils ont pris conscience du danger au Sahel (Florence Parly)". B2 Le média de l'Europe géopolitique (in French). Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  12. ^ "Des Hongrois dans la TF Takuba en 2022". FOB - Forces Operations Blog (in French). 2021-10-04. Retrieved 2021-10-04.
  13. ^ "Estonia parliament approves Mali troop increase for Operation Barkhane – The Defense Post". 8 November 2019. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  14. ^ Forces, Swedish Armed. "Mali (Task Force Takuba)". Försvarsmakten. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  15. ^ "Ap har bestemt seg: Støtter bidrag i Mali". Nationen.
  16. ^ Capar, Robin-Ivan (July 14, 2021). "Norway is sending soldiers to Mali as a contribution to the Takuba task force".
  17. ^ "La Norvège va rejoindre Takuba à l'automne". B2 Le média de l'Europe géopolitique (in French). 2021-07-13. Retrieved 2021-07-24.
  18. ^ Capar, Robin-Ivar (February 2022). "Takuba Task Force: Norway will not send troops to Mali for the time being". Norway Today. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  19. ^ "Denmark parliament approves deployments to Barkhane and MINUSMA in the Sahel – The Defense Post". 24 October 2019. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  20. ^ "Έλληνες κομάντο θα πολεμήσουν τους τζιχαντιστές στο Σαχέλ". HELLASNOW. December 4, 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ "GREEK SPECIAL FORCES GOING TO MALI TO JOIN SOF TASK FORCE TAKUBA". sofrep.com. November 24, 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ "Mali will host a unit of Greek special forces: report". greekcitytimes.com. December 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ "HOTARARE 35 16/06/2021 - Portal Legislativ". legislatie.just.ro. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
  24. ^ "Takuba. Les Italiens opérationnels à la fin de l'été. Avec une capacité reconnaissance et Medevac". B2 Le média de l'Europe géopolitique (in French). 2021-07-24. Retrieved 2021-07-24.
  25. ^ "La pleine capacité opérationnelle pour Takuba". FOB - Forces Operations Blog (in French). 2021-04-02. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  26. ^ Nathan Gain [@nthn_gn] (2021-09-24). "La #Belgique🇧🇪 augmente un (tout petit) peu sa contribution au profit de la TF #Takuba : aval gouvernemental pour l'envoi d'un officier chirurgien de sept. à nov. 21 à Ménaka en appui de la Special Operations Surgical Team(SOST) française t.co/nKY8nsXZ0P" (Tweet) (in French). Archived from the original on 2021-09-24. Retrieved 2021-10-10 – via Twitter.
  27. ^ a b "Portugal-Takuba 2022". www.dn.pt (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  28. ^ "Notícia". www.exercito.pt (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  29. ^ Ribeiro, Filipe (2021-10-07). "1.º Contingente Nacional TAKUBA realiza Exercício em Chaves". Notícias de Vila Real (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 2021-10-29.
  30. ^ Gros-Verheyde, Nicolas (2021-10-02). "Les Hongrois arrivent dans Takuba". B2 Le média de l'Europe géopolitique (in French). Retrieved 2021-10-02.
  31. ^ "Mali: La Lituanie va participer au groupement de forces spéciales Européennes Antijihadistes". abamako.com. Retrieved 2021-10-18.