Luxembourg sends troops to Mali to train local army
Luxembourg has deployeed thirteen soldiers to Mali to train local troops and to observe the area with the help of drones, as part of EU and UN missions in the African country, which is struggling with Islamist uprisings in the north.
Luxembourg last year approved a plan to deploy troops to the Sahel country, before a military coup deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. But the change of power would not affect Luxembourg's missions, the country said.
The troops left Luxembourg on Saturday on a Multi-Role Tanker Transport Airbus plane. Such planes are a joint project between the armies of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Norway as part of a European push for greater burden-sharing with the US within Nato.
The thirteen soldiers are joining one Luxembourg officer, three non-commissioned officers, three corporals and will replace a unit that is currently on the ground and will return home.
Luxembourg will help train the Malian army to act against Islamist rebels, and secure the training sites with drone reconnaissance.
Luxembourg also planned for its soldiers to help with communications between different regions of the Sahel country via its GovSat satellite, a joint venture between the government and SES satellity company.
The soldiers are set to stay in Mali for around four months and are based in Koulikoro, around 60 kilometres from Mali's capital Bamako.
Luxembourg also has a development cooperation agreement with the West African nation, providing humanitarian and development assistance. Between 2015 and 2019, the Grand Duchy spent €55 million in support of projects on education, health and hygiene, and food and water security.
The Grand Duchy has been increasing its defence spending over the last few years as part of Europe's push for a greater role in defence and Nato.
Luxembourg is also involved in drone training missions with the Estonian army.
In answer to a parliamentary question on Friday, Defence Minister Bausch also said that as Luxembourg withdraws from Afghanistan alongside its Nato partners, the Grand Duchy is not involved in any peace mission anymore.
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