Minister Stropnicky visits soldiers in Mali

Autor: Nuala Casey, Oldrich Holecek

A Czech delegation, led by Minister of Defence Martin Stropnicky, boosted members of the 3rd ACR unit serving on the European Union Training Mission (EU TM) in Mali, on 25th April 2014.

During a one-day visit, Minister Stropnicky had talks with his Malian counterpart, Malian Minister of Defence Soumeylou Boubéye Maiga, and with Commander of the EU TM in Mali, French Brigadier General Marc A. Rudkiewicz. He then visited the Czech instructors from the 71st Mechanised Battalion who presently train soldiers of the 1st Task Force of the Malian Army, who had recently returned from combat engagement in northern Mali.

The training area, not far from the town of Kati, and approximately twenty kilometres north of Capital Bamako, is a dusty and parched plain where the earth is dry and cracked and dotted with tents for the Malian soldiers and their French, Czech and German instructors.

Minister Stropnicky met with Czech instructors and praised their performance in such a demanding environment. He awarded a select group of soldiers with the Commemorative Coin of the Minister of Defence, and the Commander of the Czech group of 38 soldiers, Captain Martin Naplava, received the Shield of the Minister of Defence.

"The presence of Czech soldiers holds a deeper significance, as insurgents in the north of Mali try to control the country's most important natural resources it reflects the current defence situation when forward thinking and planning is becoming necessary, rather than wait until the threat is at our borders. Although the original mandate for this mission was 15 months, until June this year, I fully support an extension to the Czech mandate, and will be supporting that vote in Parliament next week, at least to the end of this year. There is also an increased probability that Czech soldiers will continue to serve on this mission during 2015 and 2016, as it is anticipated that the EU TM will be extended," said Martin Stropnicky addressing his soldiers.

The delegation then visited the Czech task force unit, whose assignment it is to protect the EU TM Headquarters based at the Hotel Nord Sud in Bamako.

The Czech delegation also included four members of the Czech Parliament's Defence Committee, and Deputy Minister of Defence Tomas Kuchta, who had a separate programme which included talks and meetings with Malian officials and various institutions.

April 30, 2014