Prague, Nov 20 (CTK) – The Czech military will assume the command of the EU training mission in Mali next year and command it for six months, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) and Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) announced at the military command meeting today.
Brigadier General Frantisek Ridzak, director of the Communication and Information Systems Agency, will become the mission commander, Metnar told CTK.
The Czech Republic has now some 120 soldiers in Mali. They are responsible for the protection of the mission command in the capital and the Koulikoro training locality.
Metnar said the command of the mission would not require an increase in the current mandate, which the government and parliament have approved.
The Czech command staff will be at the mission’s helm. Metnar said up to five Slovak soldiers might work in it. Both countries are negotiating about this.
The mission’s main task is to help with the building and training of the Malian military fighting Islamist radicals. Metnar said over 600 soldiers from 20 different countries serve in the Malian military.
Along with the EU training mission, the United Nations Integrated Multidimensional Stabilisation Mission (MINUSMA) is also operating in Mali. Its aim is to guarantee safety and create conditions for further humanitarian and political assistance to the Malian government. Five Czech troops serve in this mission at present.
Most Czech soldiers serve in the mission in Afghanistan, for example guarding the Bagram allied base.
Other Czech units serve in the Baltic region as part of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, as well as in Iraq, the Sinai Peninsula and the Balkans.
Each deployment must be approved of by the government and the parliament. The current mandate applies until the end of 2020 and the Defence Ministry is thus considering proposals for the subsequent years.