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First Franco-Estonian training sessions of Task Force Takuba start in Operation Barkhane.

| 2020

At the beginning of August, the last Estonian operators and most of their equipment arrived on the theater. The joint work and the first training of the French and Estonian special forces of Task force Takuba could therefore begin. Warrant Officer Christophe, FS group leader within Takuba, looks back on the first joint exercises currently taking place in Gao.
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French Special Forces in action during Operation Barkhane (Picture source: French army)

Working in conjunction with a partner force requires some initial adjustments. Indeed, "when you arrive on the ground, when you go on an operation, the whole group must have a clear mind. For that, all the basic tactics must be understood by each of the nations, ”he tells us. Mutual trust must therefore be established in the various actions employed on the ground and even on a daily basis, before welcoming the Malian armed forces in order to advise and support them effectively in combat. This thus avoids any ambiguity. This is why a first phase of training is essential in order "to avoid any dangerous act once we are deployed on an operation," he said.

Working in coalition with different nations involves different procedures that must be addressed and for which solutions must be found. These trainings thus make it possible to work on common procedures. It goes through different stages. “Before each training, there is a mission preparation. We show our Estonian counterparts how we set up mission preparation and how to tactically organize ourselves on the ground. For example, we set up a simple communications system so that everyone can talk freely without overloading the radio network, ”explains the warrant officer.

Before their arrival on the theater, a Franco-Estonian exercise should have taken place in Pau, France. But the health crisis due to COVID-19 has forced the two nations to cancel it. Nevertheless, the adjutant had no concerns about the capabilities of the Estonian special forces. “An operator remains an operator, whatever the nation. We work in the same tactically”, he specifies.

The realization of these trainings makes it possible to highlight certain aspects of the field still unknown to Estonians. “Thanks to the exercises that I put in place, I try to get as close as possible to the field and to what can expect the Estonians in the operations. We explain to them what we may have encountered in the past. It saves time in terms of experience. " explains the adjutant, deployed to many overseas operations.

The trainings are therefore very beneficial for all FS of TF Takuba. "Performing these exercises allows us to make mistakes that are corrected immediately. As a result, once in operation, we know that everything will run smoothly, ”he adds. What to put in confidence when the missions begin with the Malians.

In order to strengthen the operational capacities of the Malian Armed Forces, Task Force Takuba was officially launched on March 27, 2020. It is made up of European special forces and has been given the task of advising, assisting and supporting the fights the Malian army in its mission to control Liptako.

Led by the French armies, in partnership with the G5 Sahel countries, Operation Barkhane was launched on August 1, 2014. It is based on a strategic approach based on a logic of partnership with the main countries of the Sahel-Saharan strip: Burkina-Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. It brings together around 5,100 soldiers whose mission is to fight against armed terrorist groups and support the armed forces of partner countries


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