Photo: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Brian Smith and U.S. Army Sgt. Jared Adkins, left, both with the 3rd Platoon, Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), scan a distant ridgeline during a patrol in Paktya province, Afghanistan (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alex Kirk Amen)
The US military presence in Mali will continue, even if it may be in a limited capacity. Stars and Stripes reports that a small contingent of about ten US military personnel are remaining in the country to provide support to the French and the African-led International Support Mission to Mali:
Since France’s January intervention in Mali, the U.S. has been providing a range of support for the international effort there, including information-sharing, airlift support and air refueling. “To date, we have provided more than 7.8 million pounds of fuel to French aircraft. We have also moved approximately 1,000 personnel and 1,500 tons of equipment,” AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson said.
Also since early 2013, small numbers of military personnel have been in Mali to facilitate coordination with regional allies, according to AFRICOM.
“I cannot provide details on where the personnel providing liaison support have been located due to operational security limitations,” Benson said. “The number has varied as individuals have rotated in and out of Mali since early this year. We remain committed to supporting the French and African forces as they address the security challenges in northern Mali.”
For more than a year, Mali has been in a state of political turmoil. In March 2012, a U.S.-trained mid-level Mali army officer led a coup in the nation, which previously was regarded as one of Africa’s more stable democracies. That forced AFRICOM to suspend military ties with the country, but a small number of troops always remained stationed in the country as part of the U.S. Embassy team.
President Barack Obama holds a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)