European Scrutiny Committee Contents


2 EU training of Malian Armed Forces

(34550)

Draft Council Decision on a European Union military mission to contribute to the training of the Malian Armed Forces (EUTM Mali)

  
Legal baseArticles 42 and 43 TEU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 13 December 2012
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (34518) —: HC 86-xxv (2012-13), chapter 1 (19 December 2012)
Discussion in Council20 December 2012 Agriculture and Fisheries Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared; for debate in European Committee B

Background

2.1 In the words of the relevant House of Commons Library research paper:

"Mali has been in crisis since March 2012, when the military overthrew the government of Amadou Toumani Touré. Within weeks of the coup, a coalition of Tuareg rebels and militant Islamist armed groups with links to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb pushed the national army out of the north of the country. A weak and ineffective transitional government has been in existence in the south of the country since April but the north remains beyond its control. During October 2012 there has been growing momentum behind proposals to create a military intervention force, under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States, which would attempt to retake the north. However, many questions remain about the wisdom and feasibility of such a course of action."[8]

The Minister's letter of 15 October 2012

2.2 The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) wrote "to give notice of consideration being given to a CSDP mission in that country".

2.3 The Minister continued as follows:

"As you know, the situation in Mali is deteriorating rapidly, with more than half its territory, particularly in the north of the country, occupied by a variety of organised crime groups and terrorist groups, some affiliated to Al-Qaeda. The Malian army is in disarray and is unable to retake control of the North and is deeply divided, underfunded and poorly led.

"The EU has been considering its approach under the broad remit of the €650m EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel.[9] As part of that strategy, a civilian CSDP mission deployed to Niger in August to improve the capacity of the Nigerien security forces to tackle terrorism and organised crime in Niger, with a focus on border security.[10]

"The European External Action Service has now drawn up an options paper looking at Mali. This options paper proposes a military CSDP mission to Mali. The paper sets out three options for such a mission. The lightest option calls for a training deployment of 100-200 officers, intended to enhance the capacity of the Malian army and so strengthen its hand in negotiations with — and military action against — rebels in the North. The heaviest option calls for a deployment of 500 to include forward support units to train and mentor Government forces. This option might involve EU forces in combat.

"The British Government believes that CSDP could play a useful role in rebuilding the Malian army to retake the North. The French share this assessment and are pushing for a rapid political decision to launch a CSDP mission with a mandate to train and advise the Malian military.

"I have noted the Committee's reservations on the accelerated planning process for the CSDP mission to Niger. I share the committee's desire that any CSDP deployment should be well-planned and based on a clear understanding of Mali's needs. However I also see the need to respond quickly to a conflict that is rapidly destabilising the Sahel. The French — who have a substantial presence in the Sahel and therefore understand the region well — believe that urgent action is required to reverse the country's collapse.

"Discussions are continuing. Officials are taking a supportive position, but also taking opportunities to remind the External Action Service and French colleagues that a well-planned mission will be more effective at delivering to Mali the support which it needs.

"I will update the committee again once a draft Council Decision is available for scrutiny."

The Minister's letter of 6 December 2012

2.4 In his customary pre-recess letter on CSDP issues, the Minister said:

"As noted in previous correspondence, the situation in Mali is deteriorating rapidly. In response, we have been working towards a Council Decision to establish a new CSDP training mission (EU Training Mission (EUTM) to Mali by mid-December. We expect the FAC to approve the Crisis Management Concept (CMC) for the mission when it meets on 10 December. The CMC is the first EU planning document and sets out the mission's broad objectives: to provide military training and advice in the south of Mali to the Malian Armed Forces. We support the scope of this proposal and have been intimately involved in its preparation. To ensure a swift deployment, and given the general consensus around the parameters of the mission, it is likely that the Council will agree to overlook the Military Strategic Options phase (MSO) and move straight to an Initiating Military Directive, a document providing the guidelines for the Operations Commander to draw up more detailed planning. A Council Decision to establish a new mission to Mali could therefore happen soon after the agreement of the CMC. However, I recognise the importance of scrutiny and my officials are prepared to explain to EU Member States that the UK will only offer formal agreement after having given appropriate time for scrutiny. We are not counting on adequate time for the Committee to clear this Decision before recess, though this would, if possible, be very welcome."

The Minister's letter of 13 December 2012

2.5 The Minister responded to a request from the Committee for more information on the political rationale for the mission, the effectiveness of the mission's planning, and on the longer term strategy.

2.6 The Minister said that his letter "sets out the Government's view on those points, under individual headings", as follows:

"Political Rationale

"The situation in Mali deteriorated rapidly following a coup in March this year. More than half of its territory, mostly in the north, is occupied by a variety of nationalist, terrorist and criminal groups, two of which are affiliated to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M). The Malian army is deeply divided, underfunded, poorly led, and unable to retake control of the north. There has been no improvement since March. The security implications of failing to act in Mali could affect not only the Sahel, but wider West-and-North Africa. There is widespread recognition that, left unchecked, AQ-M and its affiliated groups could pose a direct threat to the European mainland. There is already a humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region, with an estimated 440,000 IDPs and refugees. The security situation is exacerbating this. The imposition of sharia law in Mali's northern cities has brought a rise in human rights abuses.

"On 10 December the situation in Mali became still more uncertain following the arrest by the Malian army and subsequent forced resignation of Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra. This arose from tensions between Diarra and the military over the proposed AU/ECOWAS intervention in Mali, which was authorised by UNSCR 2071 on 12 October. The Prime Minister's arrest triggered the resignation of the entire Cabinet. President Traoré has since appointed a new Prime Minister, probably influenced by the military. The new Prime Minister, Django Cissoko, has been widely welcomed (in private) as a stronger player than Diarra. But the events of 10 December demonstrate clearly the volatile situation in Mali and the need for action to resolve the continuing instability. I recognise that the Committee will be keen to be notified as soon as there is any news from Brussels, in particular if we appear to be moving towards a potential decision. We will update you accordingly in the coming days.

"The October Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) agreed three pillars for EU action in Mali: support to the political process; support to internal political negotiations; and support to ensure a credible threat of force if other efforts failed. Council Conclusions called on the Malian Government of National Unity to adopt a roadmap towards the restoration of constitutional order and a united Mali. They agreed to proceed with planning for a military CSDP mission to help restructure and train the Malian army. The Conclusions also asked the High Representative and the Commission to explore what additional support to give to regional partners, particularly ECOWAS.

"At the November FAC Ministers reaffirmed the need for EU action in Mali. The UK, supported by Germany and Poland, underlined the need for adequate planning, including force protection, having a clear exit strategy and coordination with the ECOWAS operation.  Council Conclusions called for a coherent and comprehensive approach to solving the political and security crises in Mali; stressed the importance of finding additional funding for the Africa Peace Facility (APF), asking the Commission to provide for the mobilisation of additional funding from the 10th EDF; and offered support to other international efforts in Mali, particularly those led by the AU and ECOWAS.

"Since the October FAC, an EU Assessment Mission has deployed to Bamako to review the state of the Malian armed forces. The mission reported that Malian support for the mission (this will be a key factor in ensuring that the mission is a success) had strengthened since the Government of National Unity (GNU) first formed in late August. However, the extent of the new Government's support for the mission remains to be seen.

"Ministers in Council will need to take a view as to whether the mission can still deploy despite the military's forced removal of the Prime Minister. This will also depend upon on-going discussions on this issue at the UN. As the need for intervention remains, and as the President remains as a legitimate political figure, it is likely that Ministers will agree to continue. If Ministers do wish to proceed, it is important that planning is well advanced to enable as rapid a deployment as possible.

"Planning Procedure

"An EU Crisis Management Concept - the first formal planning document - was agreed at the December FAC and sets out the missions' broad objective. This is to provide military training and advice in the South of Mali to the Malian Armed Forces in order to contribute to increasing their military capacity to engage in combat operations aimed at restoring the Malian territorial integrity. This mission is not mandated to deploy to the area of combat operations of the ECOWAS-led forces and Malian Armed Forces. EU Training Mission (EUTM) Mali will not be involved in operational actions in the north. We support the scope of this action and have been intimately involved in its preparation.

"The EUTM would form the first phase of international efforts to return northern Mali to government control. It would train the Malian armed forces to enable them to lead an intervention comprising ECOWAS Member States and other contributing nations. The EU has promised to provide support to the ECOWAS mission through the APF, which is currently funding missions in the Central African Republic (MICOPAX) and Somalia (AMISOM). We have expressed concern that existing funding for the APF will not be sufficient to cover a new, additional mission to Mali, and were pleased that the November FAC Conclusions addressed these concerns. For 2013, it is estimated that the APF would require approximately €270 million to sustain existing missions in Africa, and cover the mission to Mali (AFISMA), which has an indicated need of €50 million in 2013. It will be important for us to work with our EU partners to identify additional funds for the APF to avoid an anticipated funding shortfall in 2014, which will have implications not only for AFISMA, but also for AMISOM. A non-functioning APF will have major repercussions on EU-Africa relations, and will impact negatively on the policies and activities of our African partners.

"In view of the situation in Bamako and the need for a swift deployment to address it, and given the general consensus around the parameters of the mission, the EU Military Committee assessed that Military Strategic Options (MSO) were not required. Planning will consequently move straight to the Initiating Military Directive. This will provide the guidelines for the Operations Commander to draw up more detailed planning. There is precedent for such an approach. In planning for the CSDP mission currently underway in Niger, we agreed with European partners to combine the CONOPS and O-Plan phases of planning in to a CONOPS-plus. Whilst an accelerated planning timeline runs the risk of missing important stages in the process the UK, along with a number of other EU Member States, are working to ensure that the planning for Mali covers all necessary stages. We are currently content that the planning work to date and the planned future planning work will ensure a mission in Mali benefits from the necessary planning and preparation.

"However, before that action takes place, a Council Decision is needed to establish the mission and its Operation Commander, as well as releasing a small proportion of the mission budget to enable further planning. A further Council Decision will be required to formally launch the mission. The 10 December FAC Conclusions provided generic support for the mission, building on the Conclusions agreed at the October and November FACs, recognising the need for urgent action in Mali and giving formal agreement to proceed with planning for the CSDP mission deployment. Intensive negotiations over the text of the first Council Decision are ongoing in Brussels. There is constant dialogue between officials in London and Brussels to ensure we are fully up to speed with proceedings, and we are mindful that we will need to provide an Explanatory Memorandum (EM) to the Committee as quickly as possible once the Council Decision has been agreed.

"We have signalled our wish to give approval once the Council Decision has passed Scrutiny. France is strongly pressing for adoption of a Council Decision before Christmas in order to trigger further planning processes, particularly following the latest events in Bamako and their impact on security and on Malian government interlocutors. Due to our scrutiny obligations, we have made clear that this timing is difficult for the UK. But we remain committed to supporting this Mission and wish to avoid delaying progress for the reasons above. I would be grateful, therefore, if the Committee would be able to consider scrutiny of the Council Decision during its meeting next week, if it becomes available before 17 December. My officials will be available for further questions, in person and in writing as the Committees find most useful, in the coming week (before Parliamentary recess begins), and I trust will be able to assist you if the Council Decision is available and scrutiny therefore takes place.

"Finally, I should emphasise that this Council Decision will not definitively launch the mission. A second Council Decision will be required to approve the operational details and deployment of the mission. However, early approval of this Decision will enable planning to continue and ensure that we are better able to advance key enabling activities including force generation and operational planning. I appreciate this is a significant request of the Committee and would be grateful for your understanding given the circumstances."

The draft Council Decision

2.7 The draft Council Decision is designed

"to enable the Union to conduct a military training mission, EUTM Mali, to provide, in the South of Mali, military training and advice to the Malian Armed Forces (MAF) operating under the control of legitimate civilian authorities, in order to contribute to restore their military capacity with a view to enabling them to conduct military operations aiming at restoring the territorial integrity of Mali [and to reduce the threat posed by terrorist groups]."

2.8 The Mission "shall not be involved in combat operations."

2.9 The Mission's objective shall be "to respond to the operational needs of the Malian Armed Forces through the provision of:

—  "training support for the benefit of Malian Armed Forces;

—  "training and advice in command and control, logistical chain and human resources as well as training on International Humanitarian Law, protection of civilians and human rights."

2.10 EUTM Mali "shall aim at strengthening conditions for a proper political control by legitimate civilian authorities of the Malian Armed Forces."

2.11 The activities of EUTM Mali "shall be conducted in close coordination with other actors involved in the support to the Malian Armed Forces, in particular the United Nations (UN) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)".[11]

2.12 Brigadier General François Le Cointre would be appointed Mission Commander, with a headquarters in Mali (both Operational and Force) and a support cell in Brussels.

2.13 The remainder of the draft Council Decision is in standard terms for this type of Mission. Under the responsibility of the Council and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR), the Political and Security Committee (PSC) shall exercise the political control and strategic direction of the mission. Without prejudice to the chain of command, the EU Mission Commander shall receive local political guidance from the Head of the EU Delegation in Bamako in close coordination with the EU coordinator for Sahel. EUTM Mali shall coordinate with EUCAP SAHEL Niger with a view to exploring possible synergies. EUTM Mali shall also coordinate with Member States' bilateral activities in Mali, with other international actors in the region, in particular the UN, the AU and the ECOWAS and bilateral actors including the US and Canada, and with key regional actors.

2.14 The common costs shall be administered in accordance with the Council Decision 2011/871/CFSP of 19 December 2011 establishing a mechanism to administer the financing of the common costs of European Union operations having military or defence implications (the "Athena mechanism").[12] The financial reference amount for the common costs shall be €12.3 million.

2.15 The Decision will enter into force on the date of its adoption, and the mandate of EUTM Mali shall end 15 months after the Council Decision to launch the mission.

2.16 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 18 December 2012, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) describes the background to and rationale for the mission in essentially the same terms as in his letter of 13 December.

2.17 The Minister says that the events of 10 December, involving the arrest by the Malian army and subsequent forced resignation of Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, arose from tensions between Diarra and the military over the proposed African Union/ECOWAS intervention in Mali and underlying tensions about who would govern Mali in the longer term. He then says:

"The Prime Minister's arrest and subsequent forced resignation forced the resignation of the entire Cabinet. President Traoré has since appointed a new Prime Minister, we think influenced by the military. The new Prime Minister, Django Cissoko, has been widely welcomed (in private) as a more conciliatory figure than Diarra. But the events of 10 December demonstrate clearly the volatile situation in Mali and the need for action to resolve the continuing instability.

"A new government was appointed on 15 December and will be expected to continue working on a political roadmap towards democratic elections and the reuinification of Mali. However, it is too early for us to assess the full extent of the new government's engagement with international activity. President Dioncounda Traoré remains in place, however, and the new Prime Minister, Django Cissoko, is widely regarded as a competent addition to the Cabinet. Crucially, 19 of the 30 Ministers from the previous Cabinet returned, including at the key Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Finance."

2.18 The Minister then notes that the EU agreed a long-term Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel in March 2011, and says:

"The Strategy focussed on Mali, Niger and Mauritania and recognised the interlinked security and development issues in the region. Alongside this, the EU is well placed to provide military action through CSDP to help restore the rule of law in Bamako, while gradually building the capacity of the Malian army and security services to improve long-term security and stability. The proposed EU Training Mission will therefore focus on training the Malian armed forces and will not be involved in combat operations."

2.19 The Minister then reviews developments at the October and November FACs in the same terms as in his 13 December letter, and again says Ministers in Council will need to take a view as to whether the mission can still deploy despite the military's forced removal of the Prime Minister. He then says:

"This will also depend upon on-going discussions on this issue at the UN. However, since December 10 President Traore has appointed a new Prime Minister and the new Cabinet consists to a large extent of former Ministers from the previous Government of National Unity. We therefore do not assess that there will be a significant change in position.

"As the need for action remains, the President remains a legitimate political figure, and a new government has been appointed, it is likely that Ministers will agree to continue. If Ministers do wish to proceed, it is important that planning is well advanced to enable as rapid a deployment as possible."

The Government's view

2.20 The Minister continues as follows:

"An EU Crisis Management Concept — the first formal planning document — was agreed at the December FAC and sets out the missions' broad objective. This is to provide military training and advice in the South of Mali to the Malian Armed Forces in order to contribute to increasing their military capacity to engage in combat operations aimed at restoring the Malian territorial integrity. This mission is not mandated to deploy to the area of combat operations of the ECOWAS-led forces and Malian Armed Forces and there is no suggestion of EU troops being involved in combat operations. EU Training Mission (EUTM) Mali will not be involved in operational actions in the north. We support the scope of this action and have been intimately involved in its preparation.

"Current planning will see the mission mandated for a 15 month period with training being delivered in three month batches. The training will include a human rights element to mitigate the risk of subsequent military activity leading to human rights abuse.

"In view of the situation in Bamako and the need for swift action to address it, and given the general consensus around the parameters of the mission, the EU Military Committee assessed that Military Strategic Options (MSO) were not required. Planning will consequently move straight to the Initiating Military Directive. This will provide the guidelines for the Operations Commander to draw up more detailed planning. Under the EU planning process, a Council Decision, such as this, is then required to establish the mission, appoint its operation commander and headquarters, among other things, to enable further planning to be elaborated by those bodies, including detailed operational, logistical and financial planning. A new and separate Council Decision will be required when this process is complete to decide whether to formally launch the mission. This will depend on the political circumstances in Mali at the time. However, in order to be best prepared to deploy should circumstances on the ground permit, the Government believes that the planning process facilitated by this current Decision should proceed as quickly as possible.

"We have therefore signalled our wish to give approval to this Council Decision once it has passed Scrutiny. France is strongly pressing for adoption of a Council Decision before Christmas in order to trigger more detailed planning, particularly following the latest events in Bamako and their impact on security and on Malian government interlocutors. We share this assessment and believe that supporting the EU Training Mission ties in with UK objectives on Counter-Terrorism.

"Due to our scrutiny obligations, we have made clear that this timing is difficult for the UK. But we remain committed to supporting this Mission and wish to avoid delaying progress for the reasons above."

2.21 The Minister then turns to the wider context:

"A mission to Mali would also complement the civilian CSDP mission to neighbouring Niger. This mission, which similarly focuses on building capacity in the Nigerien security services to reinforce the rule of law and counter terrorism and organised crime, deployed at the end of July. There could also be read-across to a prospective mission in Libya, focussing on border control.

"EUTM Mali would form the first phase of international efforts to return northern Mali to government control. It would train the Malian armed forces to enable them to lead an intervention comprising ECOWAS Member States and other contributing nations. The EU has promised to provide support to the ECOWAS mission through the Africa Peace Facility, which is currently funding missions in the Central African Republic (MICOPAX) and Somalia (AMISOM). We have expressed concern that existing funding for the APF will not be sufficient to cover a new, additional mission to Mali, and were pleased that the November FAC Conclusions addressed these concerns.

"For 2013, it is estimated that the APF would require approximately €270 million to sustain existing missions in Africa, and cover the mission to Mali (AFISMA), which has an indicated need of €50 million in 2013. It will be important for us to work with our EU partners to identify additional funds for the APF to avoid an anticipated funding shortfall in 2014, which will have implications not only for AFISMA, but also for AMISOM. A non-functioning Africa Peace Facility will have major repercussions on EU-Africa relations, and will impact negatively on the policies and activities of our African partners.

"Simultaneously, we are also considering what practical support we might provide bilaterally to those anglophone countries in West Africa (such as Nigeria) who have undertaken to contribute forces to the proposed ECOWAS mission should it be endorsed at the UN. We do not envisage our assistance extending beyond pre deployment training, the provision of non-lethal equipment and assistance with planning."

2.22 Finally, with regard to the Timetable, the Minister says:

"Negotiations over the text of the Council Decision have now concluded and we do not envisage any further amendments being made to the text. The version that we have submitted to the Committee is the final draft, but we will endeavour to keep the Committees updated should further detail on the mission become available."

Conclusion

2.23 The Minister wrote to the Committee on 13 December because he did not then expect to be able to submit a draft text of the Council Decision, with an EM, before the Christmas recess. We were accordingly about to respond, thanking him for his thorough exposition of the political rationale for the mission and for the helpful information about the planning process thus far, especially as it has, as he notes, been truncated. We now take the opportunity not only to do so, but also to say how favourably it contrasts with the way in which the provision of timely updates and scrutiny of a similar, earlier mission, EUTM Somalia, has been handled.[13]

2.24 We had been planning to ask the Minister also to address, in the EM that we expected to receive some time during the recess, the question of potential "mission creep" (which likewise arises in the case of EUTM Somalia); and to provide information on how it will be demonstrated that this mission has helped to solve the problems identified, i.e. what the benchmarks and measurable outcomes are, and when they will be reviewed.

2.25 The Committee was also minded to ask for reassurance about how EUTM Mali will not morph into something long-term and become bogged down, as in the Democratic Republic of Congo; or lead on to a peace-making mission. In that regard, we have had our attention drawn to an article in "The Independent" of 6 December,[14] in which Amanda Dory, the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for Africa, reportedly emphasized that no US ground troops would enter Mali, but did not rule out the possibility of the Pentagon contributing US warplanes to transport African troops or provide them with aerial cover; and reportedly said that "because of US law, the Pentagon must funnel equipment and other aid through West African nations, the European Union and other countries". The sort of questions arising from this statement includes: only US transport and air cover? Or EU also? And how might "equipment and other aid" be "funnelled" through the EU? Though this might all be Washington "gossip", it cannot be ignored when a "boots on the ground" mission is being pushed through in a country whose government is rocky, particularly when other military ventures began as training missions and developed into something much larger and more prolonged.

2.26 There is also a question mark over the precise scope of the mission, viz., the words in square brackets in the "Mission" section of the draft text: "[and to reduce the threat posed by terrorist groups]".

2.27 It is now too late to ask the Minister further questions before this Council Decision is put to the Council for adoption, which we understand is likely to be in the next few days. Nevertheless, we think that the House should be given the opportunity to hear more from him, and certainly before a final Council Decision to launch the mission is presented for scrutiny. As well as enabling him to say more about these issues, before that point is reached, a debate will also enable him to say what he expects the mission to have achieved in 15 months (there should be benchmarks and review points); if he believes that it will then be wound up; and, if not, what he then expects to happen.

2.28 We therefore recommend that the draft Council Decision be debated in European Committee B, and that this debate should take place as soon as possible after the House returns from the Christmas recess.




8   "Mali in crisis: a political and security overview": SN06457 of 31 October 2012. Also see the BBC's Mali profile at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13881370. Back

9   See http://www.eeas.europa.eu/africa/docs/sahel_strategy_en.pdf for full information on the Strategy. Back

10   This is EUCAP SAHEL Niger; its aim "is to improve the capacities of Nigerien Security Forces (Gendarmerie, Police nationale, Garde nationale) to fight terrorism and organised crime in an effective and coordinated manner, with a view to contribute to enhancing of political stability, security, governance and social cohesion in Niger and in the Sahel region." See www.consilium.europa.eu/eeas/security-defence/eu-operations/eucap-sahel-niger for full information. Back

11   Text taken from the draft Council Decision. Back

12   OJ No. L 343, 23.12.11, p.35. Back

13   See headnote: (34518) -: HC 86-xxv (2012-13), chapter 3 (19 December 2012). Back

14   Available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/pentagon-plans-for-multinational-operation-in-mali-8388997.html. Back


 
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