This is coolbert:
Is everyone following the events as they transpire in Mali?
From France 24 we have the latest dope on the Mali situation.
That combined force of French and Mali central government troops now on the offensive, moving toward Gao, the stronghold of the rebels.
France has not only dipped the toe in the water but has now plunged in deep.
"Malian and French troops push towards Gao"
"The Malian army backed up by French troops on Friday moved into the town of Hombori, in their farthest push east towards the Islamist stronghold of Gao. Meanwhile, Islamist fighters blew up a bridge near the border with Niger."
"Mali’s military and French forces have pushed toward the Islamic extremist stronghold in the city of Gao, in their farthest push east since launching an operation two weeks ago to retake land controlled by the rebels, residents and a security official said Friday."
First air power, then helicopter gunships, now armored units and what is next. The French have made their decision to destroy the rebels and are on the road literally to doing so.
These ground units are the French Foreign Legion in action [FFL]? That has not been made evident.
The rebels well armed and trained and prepared, much to the surprise of everyone. Seems a lot of stuff captured and put into use after the fall of Ghaddafi and his Libya regime. NOT merely the technical type of adversary you have seen in Somalia for instance. That technical a pick up truck normally with a heavy machine gun mounted to the cargo bed of the truck. These various Islamic fighters even having BM-21 multiple-rocket-launchers at their disposal.
"An unnamed Elysee Palace official quoted by AFP said on Sunday that French armed forces had been surprised by the fighting quality and the equipment of the militants they were up against."
"At the start, we thought they would be just a load of guys with guns driving about in their pick-ups, but the reality is that they are well-trained, well-equipped, and well-armed,"
"From Libya they have got hold of a lot of up-to-date, sophisticated equipment which is much more robust and effective than we could have imagined."
The adversary, the rebels, in the main consisting of:
* "The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Islamist Ansar Dine" Tuareg tribesmen often referred to as the Blue Men of the desert. One of those last groups on the planet that still carry a sword as a part of their everyday dress!!
* "the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao)."Islamic fundamentalists [African Taliban].
* A smattering of combat experienced foreign fighters reputedly associated with Al Qaeda.
* Ansar Dine. [best translated as helpers of the Islamic way]
* "the Signed-in-Blood Battalion".
French strategy will have to include a plan to prevent the various rebel factions from concerted and focused action. Divide and conquer!!
Persons, those pundits that follow such things, are also asking what is the French exit strategy! Well, ask them, these things are neither easy or make for a situation that allows for a quick and easy conclusion. Those dynamic circumstances requiring constant appraisal and change as needed by the authorities in Paris.