January 30, 2013
France plans to leave northern Mali soon, now that its troops have retaken northern Mali from jihadist militias. Its strategy relies on handing control of an area the size of Texas to an African force that is unprepared and has yet to fully materialize.
About 2,500 French troops took part in the operation alongside the Malian military, which was overrun last year by Tuareg and Islamist militias that outnumbered and outgunned it. An international coalition of neighboring African countries has also committed troops, but there are serious questions about their number, training and experience for the mission, says Joshua Foust, a former intelligence analyst for the U.S. military.
“There’s a lot of doubt among Africa experts about whether these two groups will be able handle it,” says Foust, who works for the American Security Project, a think-tank in Washington.