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24.09.2021 Mali

Mali to open War College to train its own army officers, with French help

By RFI
© MICHELE CATTANI/AFP
LISTEN SEP 24, 2021
© MICHELE CATTANI/AFP

Mali's transitional government has approved the setting up of a War College designed to strengthen national security and train its future army officers. It comes just days after France expressed concern over plans by Malian authorities to hire Russian mercenaries.

Mali authorities passed a bill on Thursday to set up the Mali War College (EGM) to "reinforce autonomy" in the training of army officers.

Interim president Assimi Goïta said the school would "provide high-level training to senior officers of the defence and security forces". It includes army, police and gendarmerie, but also some civilian executives.

The school will also be a place for "research and analysis on security strategies" alongside the academic world.

Addressing the nation on Wednesday, Goita said this was "indispensable in order to face up to the challenges linked to planning and carrying out operations".

Officers who graduate from the programme are set to take up high-level positions with the Malian army but also as part of international operations such as UN peacekeeping missions.

Goïta said the school would "open shortly" but gave no precise date or place. The cost of the future war school is estimated at more than 2.5 billion CFA francs (around 3.8 million euros).

More autonomy?

Talk of setting up a war college goes back several years, but Mali's transitional council (CNT) has made increasing autonomy and cohesion one of its stated priorities.

Senior army officers are currently trained abroad and several leaders of the current junta, including Goïta, have been trained in Russia. 

The possible outsourcing of Mali's security to some 1,000 Russian mercenaries with the Wagner group has created considerable controversy in recent days and prompted Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly to warn Mali against any such deal.

A French company, made up of former soldiers, is to be in charge of training at the future military academy.

This has raised eyebrows on social media, with one teacher in Mali denouncing his country's "incompetence".

"With all these officers trained in military academies around the world, we're incapable of finding our own "brains" to do the training in our future war college," he tweeted.

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