Chad to withdraw combat forces from Mali

Just two days after three Chadian soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in Kidal in northern Mali, Chad’s president said the country’s troops would be withdrawn from Mali as they are not trained to fight a “guerrilla-style war.” From Reuters:

“Face-to-face fighting with the Islamists is over. The Chadian army does not have the skills to fight a shadowy, guerrilla-style war that is taking place in northern Mali,” [President] Deby told French media, including TV5 Monde, RFI and Le Monde.

“Our soldiers will return to Chad. They have accomplished their mission. We have already withdrawn a mechanised battalion,” he added in the interview.

Deby said Chadian troops, selected to accompany the French as they are among the region’s best, would be available for an eventual 10,000-strong United Nations force to be deployed once combat operations wind down.

Only last month, and citing an earlier suicide attack, Chad’s foreign minister warned France and African allies against hastily withdrawing troops from Mali even though much of the country had been cleared of rebels.

About 10 days ago, Chadian forces redeployed forces from the Adrar des Ifoghas Mountains after fighting alongside French forces against jihadists from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine, and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). The jihadists had withdrawn to the mountain range in northern Mali following the launch of the French-led offensive against the terror groups in January. At the time the offensive began, the jihadists had controlled the north for nearly one year and were advancing southward.

France is also seeking to withdraw its forces from Mali. President Hollande indicated that France will reduce its forces from 4,000 troops to 1,000 by the summer, and has claimed that the Mali is nearly secured and combat operations are ending.

Meanwhile, the jihadist alliance continues to launch guerrilla and suicide attacks against French, Malian, and Chadian forces in the north. There have been eight suicide attacks in Mali, including the attack last night in Timbuktu, since France intervened to halt the takeover of Mali by AQIM, MUJAO, and Ansar Dine, according to a count by The Long War Journal. Before the French invasion, the three groups did not conduct such attacks in Mali.

Prior to the suicide attack on April 12 that killed three Chadian soldiers in Kidal, jihadists conducted two suicide assaults in Timbuktu. On March 21, jihadists, likely from AQIM, launched a suicide assault on the airport in Timbuktu. And on March 31, an Algerian suicide bomber detonated at a checkpoint in Timbuktu as a team of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb fighters infiltrated the town and then battled security forces for two days.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • mike merlo says:

    [Chad’s president said the country’s troops would be withdrawn from the country as they are not trained to fight a “guerrilla-style war.”]
    Strange comment. When have any of the last few wars the Chadians were engaged or fighting in not had a gorilla/insurgent ‘element’ to them

  • Will Fenwick says:

    The Chadians were just defeated in Central African Republic by Seleka and now are withdrawing from Mali. I imagine the reason for the withdrawal from Mali is related to public opinion in Chad slipping due to the spat of casualties suffered this year in Chads foreign military deployements.

  • blert says:

    He means that Chadian troops are not equipped with the social network required to counter suicidal fanatics in an alien land. (ie differing tribes)
    Back home, his troops can spot outsiders. They can work hand and glove with the police.
    Indeed, the future fighting in Mali will be 99% police work. AQIM has given up on stand-up jihad. From now on it’s going to be ‘small project jihad.’
    The point being to harry the police and the army — causing them to spend 10,000 times as much effort on defense as the fanatics have to spend on disruption.
    Many ‘suicide troops’ are dupes who don’t even know that they’re walking bombs/ driving a weaponized vehicle. That makes ‘recruitment’ easier — and very cost effective.
    Mali just doesn’t have the economic ability to pay for perpetual low grade warfare. The fanatics (and their ‘Golden Chain’) do have the money.

  • mike merlo says:

    With all due respect please save your ‘lectures’ for the uninformed. How would you know what Chad is or is not prepared for. Chad like all the Nations of the Sahara/Sahel is an eclectic mix of ethnicities & since the close of WWII up until the present has had multiple internal ‘conflicts.’ All of these ‘conflicts’ featured outside interlopers & required Chad to conduct operations, albeit limited, outside their sovereign boundaries. Everyone of the conflicts required Chad to use counter-insurgency tactics in one capacity or another & in some ‘cases’ was the strategy for specific ‘zones.’
    Chad’s decision to Militarily ‘stand down’ has more to do with resources than any lack of expertise on the part of the Chadian Military Personnel.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    So much for hunting them all down.

  • blert says:

    Your argument does not hold water.
    Armies always do better on home ground, always.
    Expeditionary capability is much scarcer, and always will be.
    The second the conflict shifted back to police dominated kinetics — it was time for Chad to leave.
    Indeed, France is pulling out, too.
    America has spent years in Afghanistan — and at every turn has found that the battle turns on locals: what they know, who they know, and what they sense.
    I don’t post anything as a ‘lecture’ for someone as well self-educated and self-assured as you.
    And, of course, many uniformed readers click in to the LWJ to become informed. Everyone has to start somewhere — and I recommend this website to all I know.

  • mike merlo says:

    thank you for bringing my amniorrhexis to my attention
    Thank you for reminding me where ‘armies’ best perform. I’ll be sure to extend this profound ‘gem’ of wisdom to the US Military particularly The Veterans of Foreign Wars.
    “…to police dominated kinetics,” what does that mean? 2 guys on camels ‘pull up’ swap stories, share tea, puff on a hookah & ‘enforce’ the law? Or a paramilitary SWAT Team comes swoopin in & exacts justice?
    “Indeed, France is pulling out, too.” Now is this before or after France ‘said’ they’d only be there for a month or so?
    “America has spent years in Afghanistan — and at every turn has found that the battle turns on locals:” uh huh yeah right. Kinda like The Battle Of Kamdesh, Operation Anaconda or any number of other near forgotten engagements. Thanks for the ‘insight.’
    “ well self-educated and self-assured as you.” Its not necessary for you or anybody else to acknowledge what I already know to be true. Nonetheless thank you anyways.
    “And, of course, many uniformed readers click in to the LWJ to become informed. Everyone has to start somewhere — and I recommend this website to all I know.” I couldn’t agree with more!
    Thank you for sharing

  • Etkinlikci says:

    “Strange comment. When have any of the last few wars the Chadians were engaged or fighting in not had a gorilla/insurgent ‘element’ to them”
    good comment =)

  • blert says:

    You’re most welcome.

  • Neo says:

    Actually, I thought that was one of your better assessments. Chadian troops need to call it a successful mission and go home. Their primary mission is protecting Chad and keeping their own government stable. If they are called on to aid in a future mission my guess would be northern Niger.


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