By Basil Rehan
France announced Tuesday it will be increasing the size of its intervention force in Mali by up to 2,500 troops to support a joint French-Malian campaign against Islamist rebels located in northern Mali.
The announcement came on the fifth day of mission “Serval,” by the French and is seen by some as an indication of the European country’s commitment to a costly, long-term Afghan style desert conflict.
French President, Francois Hollande, had previously denied these claims and insisted that the mission would be short with clear objectives and said today that French troops would remain until stability returned to the West African country.
In an interview with French daily, Le Monde, Vincent Desportes, a tier two general and former director of France’s Joint Defence College was more blunt when he said the war in Mali would be a “long- term engagement.”
Currently France has 700 troops deployed in the African country with a stated objective of supporting local and regional military forces in their offensive against Islamist rebels in northern Mali.
According to French news network France24 the reality on the ground is that operation planning and execution is being conducted entirely by French forces.
Al Jazeera News reports that military chiefs of the West African bloc of nations, ECOWAS, are meeting in the Malian capital Bamako to discuss details of a planned deployment of more than 3,000 troops next week.
In response to a French request for logistical support in the intervention Canada has deployed one C-17 transport aircraft to Mali for one week for non-combat purposes. In an interview with CBC News Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the deployment decision would be analyzed at the end of the week but “it is intended to be of a short duration.”