(Salaamanews)- U.S. military experts are providing key planning support to regional militaries on a strategy for an African-led intervention in northern Mali, which has become a safe haven for al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations, U.S. defense officials said Wednesday.
“The broad strategic concept for that deployment is sound; more specific planning is under way to address operational shortfalls,” Amanda Dory, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African Affairs, said during a Senate hearing.
There is no plan to send U.S. troops to take part in the intervention, but support could come in other forms, including training for the African forces that would be taking part in the operations.
As for U.S. plan for support, it is likely to resemble the kind of assistance that has been provided in recent years to Somalia, where the insurgent group al-Shabab once threatened to overtake the country but now stands severely weakened.
Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, has said Somalia could serve as a model for how to operate in Mali.
The U.S. approach in Somalia has centered on training and equipping African Union forces, who, in turn, have pushed al-Shabab out of Somalia’s capital city and other major cities.
“We look to try to have the same kind of both regional and international cooperation on Mali,” Carson said in October.
Al-Qaida in the Maghreb has a history of terrorist attacks across the Sahel region, but has not demonstrated an ability to attack targets in the United States. Still, AQIM has expressed an intent to target Europe, Dory said.
For that reason, the European Union also is planning a support effort focused on training security forces in Mali.