Representatives of thirteen European countries announced the creation of a new military task force, named Takuba, on Friday, March 27, which will fight alongside Malian and Nigerien armies against terror groups affiliated with Islamic State and al-Qaida. Takuba (“sabre” in Tuareg) is expected to become operational by early 2021, with its theater of operations located in the Liptako region, which straddles the border between Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
Takuba will work alongside France’s 4,500-strong Operation Barkhane and the G5 Sahel alliance Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Chad’s armies. All three will be managed under the Coalition for the Sahel framework that was established at the France–G5 Sahel summit in Pau, France, in January. The framework brings the task forces under a single command and will encourage joint operations and intelligence sharing.
Why It Matters
The creation of Takuba signals that France’s European partners have taken the call to get involved in the Sahel seriously. At a time when the Pentagon is still weighing the possibility of an American troop drawdown, transferring operational capacity to European forces is considered necessary for operational success. The question is whether this task force will meaningfully shift the balance of power in the conflict. Since 2012, billions of dollars have been spent on military equipment, analysis, and personnel to stabilize the Sahel, to little effect. Addressing the underlying causes of instability in the region—poverty, lack of faith in government and national security forces, border disputes, and underdevelopment of rural areas—is needed more than ever to truly move toward a resolution to this conflict.