45th Report of Session 2013-14 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents


8 EU training of Malian security forces

(35915)

Council Decision on the European Union Military Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali)

  
Legal baseArticles 42(4) and 43(2) TEU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationMinister's letter of 3 January 2014 and EM of 28 March 2014
Previous Committee ReportNone: but see (34664) —: HC 83-viii (2013-14), chapter 17 (3 July 2013) and HC 86-xxxii (2012-13), chapter 14 (13 February 2013); also see (34646) —: HC 86-xxxi (2012-13), chapter 13 (6 February 2013) and (34550)—: HC 86-xxv (2012-13), chapter 2 (19 December 2012)
Discussion in Council14 April 2014 Foreign Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared; further information requested

Background

8.1 In the words of the current 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 separatist 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. The coalition split up quickly, leaving the militant Islamists largely in control. A weak and ineffective transitional government has been in existence in the south of the country since April but the north remained beyond its control. In late 2012, it was agreed to create a military intervention force, under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which would attempt to retake the north, but it was not expected to be battle-ready until September 2013. At the same time, political negotiations began to try and draw parts of the rebel coalition into a political process. However, on 9 January 2013, a sudden military push southwards by rebels appeared to open up the possibility that the entire country might fall to them in the near future. This provoked an urgent French military intervention from 11 January onwards to stop the rebel advance and, indeed, roll it back. This is being achieved. However, the rebels are re-grouping and will turn to insurgency.

    "Concerns are being raised about the need for French and Malian forces to uphold humanitarian and human rights law during the current military operation in Mali. Malian forces have been accused of serious human rights abuses. As the ECOWAS force, known as AFISMA, assembles and deploys, these concerns will extend to it as well. The agreed EU training mission that has been agreed, along with the UK training initiative for Anglophone troops involved, will need to respond to such concerns. The UK is not currently in a combat role in Mali, although some worry about gradual 'mission creep'."[46]

8.2 The Council Decision establishing EUTM Mali was debated in European Committee B on 16 January.[47] That Council Decision laid down the Mission's parameters: non-involvement in combat operations; the provision to the Malian Armed Forces of training and advice in command and control, logistical chain and human resources, and international humanitarian law, protection of civilians and human rights. EUTM Mali aims at strengthening conditions for a proper political control by legitimate civilian authorities of the Malian Armed Forces. The activities of EUTM Mali are to be conducted in close coordination with other factors involved in the support to the Malian Armed Forces, in particular the UN and ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States). The budget was to be €12.3 million, to cover its 15 month duration. An extraordinary FAC meeting on the 17 January 2013 adopted the Council Decision and thus authorised its establishment.

8.3 The EU's overall political objective was to enable the Malian authorities to: restore constitutional order, supporting a roadmap to free and open elections in 2013; extend the State's authority throughout the country; and tackle the terrorist threat and organised crime. EUTM Mali aims at strengthening conditions for a proper political control by legitimate civilian authorities of the Malian Armed Forces. [48]

8.4 By July 2013, EUTM Mali was approximately 550 strong, comprising:

—  approximately 200 instructors, of which approximately 100 are infantry trainers;

—  150 troops providing force protection, from France (one company), Czech Republic and Spain (one platoon each);

—  150 staff officers and NCOs at the Main Headquarters in Bamako and the Forward Headquarters in Koulikoro, responsible for command and control, liaison with the Malian authorities, medical support and logistics; and

—  a small cell in Brussels responsible for co-ordination between the Mission and the EU apparatus.

8.5 22 Member States have provided personnel. France is by far the largest contributor. The UK is providing 33 military trainers, four HQ staff and one Human Rights trainer.

8.6 As our Reports on EUTM Mali recall, the Committee has long underlined the danger of "mission creep" in all CSDP missions. Here, the early stage element of "mission creep" was budgetary: double the original estimate, to €31 million, with the clear likelihood of more to come. The Committee said that it expected to hear more when the Minister wrote about the mid-term review and asked, when he did so, to provide his assessment of EUTM Mali's achievements-against-benchmarks thus far, of progress towards achieving the EU's overall objectives and of the likelihood of attaining the planned exit at the end of the 15 month mandate.[49]

The Minister's letter of 3 January 2014

8.7 As part of an update on CSDP in the Sahel, the Minister wrote reporting that the UK and other Member States assessed that EUTM Mali had performed well so far. The four battalions trained represented approximately half the Malian army's fighting strength. A Strategic Review (issued in November 2013) proposed a two year extension, beyond May 2014, in order to be able to train the remaining battalions, provide follow-up training and step up its advice activity. The Minister saw merit in so extending EUTM — provided that a clear exit strategy was built into the renewed mandate, in order to enable the Malians to take ownership of their own training and defence sector reform by the end of a second mandate. As proposed, the amended mandate would include (his emphasis):

—  more focused leadership training (of officers and NCOs);

—  follow-up training post-graduation (including training in the Malian army's own barracks); and

—  "train-the-trainer" work, which will permit the training work progressively to be handed over to the Malians themselves.

8.8 Discussions continued in Brussels, including on how the Mission would manage the challenges that were likely to persist, e.g., "shortages of equipment" and "providing the full quota of trainees at the start of each battalion's training".

8.9 The Minister also noted that UN Security Council Resolution 2100, of 25 April 2013, had highlighted the need for work in this area for the sort of support provided via civilian CSDP, and that the UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, was keen to take advantage of the EU's expertise in security sector reform and capacity-building; so, after "significant engagement" with their heads, the EEAS had proposed a new civilian mission, focussing on the challenges facing the police, gendarmerie and the national guard, with the following objectives:

—  "Restoring and maintaining constitutional and democratic order and conditions for peace;

—  "Extending and maintaining the authority and legitimacy of the State throughout the country; and

—  "Installing national security, ensuring territorial control and protection of the population particularly through strengthening capacity to fight terrorism, organized crime and trafficking."[50]

8.10 In its reply of 15 January 2014, the Committee thanked the Minister for his frankness on the experience thus far in Mali and the challenges facing EUTM, both actual and prospective; found it reassuring that the UK had been so fully involved; and fully endorsed the Minister's focus on a clear exit strategy. It noted, however, the Kidal incident suggested that EUTM's performance had perhaps not been quite as satisfactory as hoped for;[51] while the shortages of equipment for trainees and of trainees themselves that he expected to persist could clearly threaten the ability of the Malians to assume responsibility at the end of the next mandate. The obvious danger was pressure at the end of the next mandate for a further extension, notwithstanding the sort of necessary amendments to the mandate that the Minister highlighted. There was also a clear and present danger to cost control if, as seemed to be the case, a commercial organisation could hold the mission to ransom in the crucial area of MEDEVAC; the Minister was "encouraging creative solutions", but did not give any examples of what they might be; when a Council Decision was put forward, the Committee would expect his Explanatory Memorandum to cover these matters fully.

The draft Council Decision

8.11 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 28 March 2014, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) explains that this draft Council Decision authorises the extension of the Mission's mandate for a further two years, to enable it to (the Minister's emphasis):

—  train a further four battalions;

—  undertake more focused leadership training (of officers and NCOs);

—  carry out follow-up training, including through mobile teams visiting the Malian army's own barracks;

—  develop sustainable "train-the-trainer" work, to permit training progressively to be handed over to the Malians themselves, as a key component of the exit strategy; and

—  increase the strategic advice dimension of the Mission's work as a further pillar of the exit strategy.

The Government's view

8.12 The Minister comments as follows:

    "EUTM has performed well over its 15-month mandate. The 550-strong Mission has involved 22 EU countries, and the EU has recently made arrangements to allow Canada and Switzerland to participate in the international effort in Mali through the structures of EUTM. Training has proceeded according to schedule, and co-operation with the Malians has been good.

UK PARTICIPATION

    "The UK has taken an active role in this CSDP Mission, contributing almost 40 training and HQ staff at its peak in 2013, and now running at 26. The UK contribution has included the only Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and Prevention of Sexual Violence training available in the Mission. This training has won high praise both inside and outside the Mission.

    "The UK has agreed to continue contributing staff to EUTM into the second mandate. The UK contingent will remain of a similar size to now. We will provide three staff officers and 27 of a 33-person infantry training team, the remaining six being provided by Ireland. We will also continue providing the Human Rights training, and are planning to strengthen our Human Rights training component with additional trainer. It is likely that there will be an opportunity to review the UK commitment mid-way through the second mandate.

CHALLENGES

    "EUTM has been affected by two principal challenges over its lifetime. The first was a significant increase in budget, which was caused largely by the Malians changing — at a late stage in the planning process — the location of the training site away from the capital, Bamako, to a camp 50 km away in Koulikoro. The resulting increase in Force Protection and medical capabilities required for this location necessitated an increase in the budget of approximately 50% over the initial Reference Amount, to some EUR 31.1 million over the 15 months. Arguably the change to Koulikoro has yielded an unforeseen political benefit however, in that through EUTM an important international actor has been operating well outside the confines of the capital since February 2013, and this has paved the way for the proposed further expansion of EUTM's footprint through the mobile training teams that will work in the Malian army's own barracks.

    "A second challenge has been that of Force Generation — the means by which participating states bid to provide capabilities in the Mission — and specifically over MEDEVAC provision. Following an initial period in which Belgium provided EUTM's MEDEVAC helicopters, the Force Generation mechanism failed to identify a provider for subsequent months. This entailed the Mission having to procure MEDEVAC from a private company, which proved expensive.

    "As we look ahead to the new mandate, Force Generation has again failed to yield MEDEVAC from among Member States, and it is likely therefore that the EU will again have to put the contract out to tender. At this point in the planning process, the exact nature of the MEDEVAC requirement is still being determined, but it is likely that given the presence of mobile training teams, a fixed wing aircraft may be required in order to cover the greater distances that will be involved, within the 'golden hour' which governs UK (and some other Member States') deployment doctrine.

    "While a fixed wing solution is likely to be more expensive than helicopters alone, it is hoped that better value for money might be achieved by securing a contract for the whole two-year mandate. In addition, given that the UN Mission, MINUSMA, is also eager to find a sustainable MEDEVAC capability, there may be scope to find a creative and cost-effective solution which will meet the needs of both Missions.

MALIAN TRAINEES' PERFORMANCE CONCERNS

    "In my letter of 3 January I made reference to a small number of instances when Malian troops trained by EUTM had behaved poorly whilst deployed in the field, for example engaging in looting and using excessive levels of force. I mentioned an incident of looting in the town of Aguelhok in September 2013 (caused by a shortage of food rations whilst on operations), and more seriously 'the Kidal Incident' of 28 November, when members of the Elou battalion (the second to be trained) opened fire on civilian protestors in Kidal, one of whom subsequently died. The lessons that flowed from these events have been acted on, for example taking informed decisions over which troops to deploy on which tasks (where a clash of ethnicity is a concern) and building more extensive crowd-control training into the EUTM curriculum, in line with the philosophy of continuously improving the training. Under EUTM's second mandate, the provision of follow-up training to EUTM alumni will help to improve discipline still further, and avoid such incidents happening again. Encouragingly, since Kidal there have been no further reported incidents of dangerous indiscipline by EUTM-trained soldiers.

CSDP IN THE REGION

    "As you know, there are a number of other CSDP missions in the Sahel-Sahara region besides EUTM: EUCAP Sahel-Niger,[52] EUBAM Libya,[53] and a new civilian Mission is also being proposed for Mali. Of these, EUTM Mali has been particularly successful so far, and I believe there is merit in extending its mandate for a further two years, and for the UK participation in the Mission to continue.

    "As plans for the new civilian Mission in Mali have moved forward, we have worked hard to ensure that the various CSDP missions in the region will complement each other and not duplicate effort. At the front end, the separation between military and civilian missions is important for Member States, however we are keen wherever possible to look for synergies in the support functions, such as Role 2 medical and Logistics, to ensure good value for money. In its new mandate, EUTM will collaborate closely with the EU Delegation in Bamako to ensure coherence and co-operation with other EU instruments — particularly as it looks ahead to its eventual exit from Mali, and it will also maintain a close dialogue with the UN Mission, MINUSMA."

8.13 The Minister then turns to the Financial Implications:

    "EUTM Mali's Reference Amount will be €27,700,000 over the two year mandate. We have not seen a detailed budget breakdown, however we assess that the new Reference Amount is reasonable when set against the budget for the initial 15-month mandate of €31.1 million. We have worked hard in planning discussions to bear down on costs for EUTM's second mandate, and will continue to do so.

    "The UK contribution of the amount is estimated at €4.1 million, based on its cost share of 14.82%. This will be funded from the MOD/FCO/DFID-owned Peacekeeping Budget, which is currently funded through the SR10 Conflict Settlement, and from 2015-16 through the Conflict Stabilisation and Security Fund (CSSF). We are currently projecting sufficient headroom in the budget to meet likely costs in 2014-15, but the budget may face other pressures which could limit the amount of available non-ODA funding.

    "Discussions are continuing in Brussels over the possible need for the Mission to vacate two buildings at the request of the Malian authorities. Should a formal request be received, a move to new accommodation may incur additional costs. However a number of Member States are eager that any relocation costs should be contained within the €27.7 million Reference Amount.

    "In addition to the common costs funded from the CFSP budget, the UK intends to continue its contribution of training and headquarters staff to the Mission. The costs for these positions will come from the Tri-Departmental Africa Conflict Pool, and are expected to cost approximately £2 million. These costs have been planned for in the 2014-15 financial year. For 2015-16, the CSSF will govern the Africa conflict budget, and we will need to assess our commitments against the 2015-16 allocations in due course."

Conclusion

8.14 We considered the Council Decision to authorise EUCAP Mali, the civilian capacity-building mission to which the Minister refers, at our meeting on 26 March.

8.15 As of that point, the mission is a "work in progress". The Mission's aim now appears to be more realistic: at the end of the process, security forces that are better at ensuring public security, with greater control over their territory, a more effective penal chain, a strengthened chain of command and operating more effectively. However, there remain significant challenges, given the starting point with the security forces — poor relations with the authorities and the general population; insufficient training and equipment; a lack of infrastructure; a chain of command not fit for purpose; disorganised human resources management; endemic clientelism and corruption; and a general a lack of credibility.

8.16 Nonetheless, it is envisaged that, beginning towards the end of this year, a second mission will be running in Mali for at least four years. But its exit strategy is not to be defined until the time of the first Strategic Review. Moreover, the EU is to be involved for years thereafter through the EDF and other EU instruments, in providing advice at Ministerial level, human resources advice, advice in managing training schools as well as training teacher trainers. Therefore, when the Minister submits a second Council Decision in the autumn, prior to the mission's launch, we have asked him not only to demonstrate how the fully fleshed-out Mission will meet the pre-conditions in his 3 January letter,[54] but also to say more about the exit strategy and the sort of timeline and scope that Member States envisage for longer-term EU involvement.

8.17 Meanwhile, EUTM Mali is set to continue at least until Spring 2016. The Minister is to be commended for helping to drive down the projected cost. But that is not yet a given. The sort of force generation issue that he highlights is not unique: the launch of the proposed military mission to the Central African Republic has been likewise delayed by the unwillingness of Member States to provide the full range of necessary capabilities. In Mali, it sounds as though the authorities have not been entirely helpful — firstly, effectively more than doubling the cost of the first mandate by changing the mission's location; now, for reasons that the Minister does not explain, raising the prospect of the mission having to move to new accommodation. We should be grateful if the Minister would write to us when each of these issues has been resolved — MEDEVAC and accommodation — about the outcome, the cost and the implications for the proposed €27.7 million reference amount.

8.18 In one or the other of those letters, we should also like to know what arrangements are in place to review progress-against-benchmarks in EUTM Mali's second mandate, and what proposals he has for keeping the Committee informed.

8.19 In the meantime, we clear this Council Decision.


46   "The crisis in Mali: current military action and upholding humanitarian law": SN06531 of 23 January 2013; see http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06531. Back

47   The record of the debate is available at Gen Co Deb, European Standing Committee B, 16 January 2013, cols. 3-24, and http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmgeneral/euro/130116/130116s01.htm. Back

48   For the full background and the Committee's earlier consideration, see (34646) -: HC 86-xxxi (2012-13), chapter 13 (6 February 2013) and (34550) -: HC 86-xxv (2012-13), chapter 2 (19 December 2012). Back

49   See (34664) -: HC 83-viii (2013-14), chapter 17 (3 July 2013). Back

50   We considered the Council Decision to begin planning this mission at our meeting on 26 March; see (35889) -: HC 83-xxxix, chapter 16 (26 March 2014). Back

51   On 28 November 2013, the Elou battalion (the second to be trained) opened fire on a group of civilians in Kidal, three of whom were wounded and, of whom, one subsequently died; the soldiers were among those trained by UK personnel. This was the worst of a number of instances, "albeit isolated, when EUTM-trained Malian troops have behaved poorly when deployed in the field, and engaged in looting and excessive use of force". (the Minister's letter). Back

52   EUCAP SAHEL Niger, the CSDP civilian mission launched at the request of Niger's government in the summer of 2012, is designed to provide advice and training to help the Nigerien authorities strengthen their framework for combating terrorism and organised crime. See http://consilium.europa.eu/media/1960390/eucap_sahel_factsheet_en_-_april_2013_final.pdf. Back

53   EUBAM Libya aims to support the Libyan authorities in improving and developing the security of the country's borders. See http://www.eeas.europa.eu/csdp/missions-and-operations/eubam-libya/index_en.htm. Back

54   Any new CSDP mission should: complement the work of other actors, principally MINUSMA; have a focused, measureable mandate; be up-front about the potential challenges; have achievable aims and a clear, achievable exit strategy; prioritise training of officers who will eventually deploy to northern Mali, where the need is greatest; work closely with the other CSDP Missions to deliver the EU Strategy for the Sahel, sharing good practice, learning lessons and avoiding duplication; and consider early and realistically how it will be staffed. Back


 
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