General Pavel visits soldiers on EU Mali mission and meets with the EU Training Mission Commander

Autor: Nuala Casey, Oldrich Holecek

On Thursday, the Czech army began rotating its soldiers taking part in the European Union Training Mission in Mali, and Chief of General Staff General Petr Pavel flew with the new unit to Bamako to talk with the EUTM Commander, General Alfonso García-Vaquero Pradal, and also met with the soldiers who participated in the multi-national mission.

Garcia-Vaquero Pradal thanked General Pavel for the excellent performance of the Czech soldiers who not only protect the mission's headquarters in Bamako and military convoys, but also assist in training the local armed forces. The General said, "Your soldiers are excellent. They perform a great job to a high professional standard. They are highly experienced and we certainly feel safe having them here." He added, "The security situation is stable. There have been no signs of any ongoing infiltration of extremist groups from neighbouring countries to Mali."

In his reply General Pavel stated that: "It is in our interest to contribute to the stabilisation of this region, to prevent the spread of extremism and stem the flow of refugees to Europe. Therefore, it is vital to continue to support the strengthening and training of the local security forces."

The Czech soldiers have been part of this training mission since March 2013, with four six-month tour rotations. Only the current 4th Czech Unit, which will be replaced by the new 5th Unit this month, have contributed to the training of 600 Malian soldiers, together with French and German instructors. The Malian 6th GTIA (Groupement Tactique Interarmée [Battalion task force]) is now ready to fight extremist groups who are operating in the north, and will defend government controlled areas in the south."

The EUTM mission will be accomplished by the end of next year.

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March 12, 2015