The fate of the ECOWAS Mission aimed at routing the Islamists who now control the Northern part of Mali may yet hang in the balance for some time. Incidentally, the Malians who are directly at the receiving end of the brutality of the insurgents don’t seem to have any confidence in the Nigerian Army which would form the bulk of the ECOWAS intervention force.
A British newspaper, The UK Guardian quoted a “senior” Malian official as saying the Nigerian Army lacks basic training and discipline. “In reality there is no way they are capable of forward operations in Mali – their role is more likely to be limited to manning checkpoints and loading trucks. The Nigerian forces lack training and kit, so they simply don’t have the capability to carry out even basic military manoeuvres. They have poor discipline and support. They are more likely to play a behind-the-scenes role in logistics and providing security,” thus giving an indication that the country might have already been looking elsewhere for support in ousting the Islamist rebels.
The senior official also told the British paper that “the Malian army should play a substantial part in any ground operation, following their training by the EU. Once the security council gets the report it asked for, in mid to late November, the planning and co-ordination can really begin in earnest.”
Incidentally, the Malian army doesn’t seem to be better in any way. Though many have traced the fall of the late Libyan leader, Muammar Ghadaffi to the entry of the Islkamists, it is believed in some quarters that the Malian army’s March 22 coup played a big role in giving impetus to the invading Islamists to take over the country’s northern region.
A spokesman of the Nigerian Forces contacted disclosed that though the Nigerian military lacks resources, it has lots of experience and has achieved success in previous military operations.