Operation Takuba: towards full operation

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

The Task Force is taking shape more and more Takuba, wanted by France to fight the jihadist groups operating in the Sahel.

Last February 150 operators from Särskilda Operationsgruppen (Special Operations Task GROUP) Swedish, with three UH-60 medium helicopters and a C-130J. Their main task is to train and accompany (mentoring) on mission the reconnaissance units of the Malian army.

In addition, the Stockholm government has floated the hypothesis of increasing the special forces device up to 250 operators, perhaps integrating it with the Fallskärmsjägarna (Ranger unit), thus also assuming rapid reaction force tasks (Quick Reaction Strength), in support of the operations of the Task Force Takuba.

"The arrival of these helicopters (in Menaka) was the subject of an upstream preparation: a special area was created for the take-off and landing of the machines and, in the vicinity, bays for refueling were set up", says the General Staff of the French Armed Forces.

The Swedish UH-60s will also allow Operation forces Barkhane to have more flexibility in terms of air mobility. In fact, in an operational theater like that of the Sahel, helicopters play a very important role.

The Paris initiative, aimed at creating a European Special Forces Task Force to work alongside Barkhane, launched in 2019, politically it had garnered a lot of support. However, from a military point of view, few countries have committed to sending their own units.

Estonia was the first to declare itself ready to do so. Then the Czech Republic and Sweden followed suit, provided they had the prior approval of their parliaments. This took some time. In July 2020, the initial operational capacity (IOC) of Takuba was declared in Gao, thanks to the arrival of the Estonian special forces. This allowed the group of European special forces to participate in its first missions alongside the light reconnaissance and intervention unit n. 4 of the Armed Forces of Mali, in particular during operations Squall, in October 2020 ed Eclipse, last January.

The arrival of the Italian contingent is now expected, the first rates of which are already in the operational theater.

In an interview on March 19, the Minister of Defense Guerini (in the photo with a handset in his right ear, ndd) referred to Takuba in the context of greater European cooperation aimed at combating Islamic terrorism in Africa, specifying that Italy will not have a role of gregarious or simple partner (of the French) in the Sahel.

Referring readers to the previous articles on the subject about the size of our contingent, we highlight once again the fact that the Italian military device will be under French command and, given the great experience gained by the operators of the COFS (Interforze Command for Special Forces Operations, ed) in theaters such as Iraq and Afghanistan (and beyond), most likely they will be employed in missions combat like their French colleagues.

Photo: Försvarsmakten / Ministry of Defense