After deploying troops to Francophone countries in Western Africa more than once in recent years, and as the region only grows less stable, France has decided to establish a permanent force there. The Economist reports:
Twice last year, with uncharacteristic decisiveness, Mr Hollande sent French troops into African conflicts: to beat back a jihadist incursion in Mali, and to curb ethno-religious warfare in the Central African Republic (CAR). Now France wants to reorganise its troops in the region, under the banner “Operation Barkhane”, as a 3,000-strong counter-terrorism force.
The new force will be permanent, with its headquarters in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena. It has been designed with five countries that span the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, all former colonies. A thousand French soldiers will remain indefinitely in Mali (down from a peak of over 4,000 last year), focused on counter-terrorism operations in the north, where there has been a resurgence of violence. Another 1,200 will be stationed in Chad, the rest split between a surveillance base in Niger, a bigger permanent base in Ivory Coast, and some special forces in Burkina Faso. The French will supply Barkhane with 20 helicopters, 200 armoured vehicles, ten transport aircraft, six fighter planes and three drones.