Corruption in army kills! Report cases of abusing power!
The case of U.S. defence assistance to Mali suggests that focusing solely on providing equipment and operational training, without planning for and addressing corruption risks, is not sufficient in fragile environments. Interview material and in-house research also indicate that the type of engagement the U.S. pursued—described by one interviewee as insubstantial and episodic—was not conducive to tackling overarching, systemic issues or to increasing the overall effectiveness of units and individual soldiers.
Between 2001-2012, the Malian military was a recipient of U.S. State Department- and Defense Department-funded initiatives including the Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI), African Contingency Operations and Training Assistance (ACOTA), International Military Education and Training (IMET), the Counterterrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP), the Aviation Leadership Programme, Section 1206 ‘Global Train and Equip’ Programmes, regional programmes run by the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) and the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, and the regional Flintlock exercise. However, overall U.S. security and defence assistance to Mali has been low, whether compared to the State or Defense Department budgets or to funding for civilian initiatives. For example, the USAID budget for Mali in FY2011 totalled $138 million and in FY2012 totalled $92 million across four program areas: health ($62 million), economic growth ($46 million), education ($20 million), governance and communications ($10.5 million), compared to less than $3 million spent on defence and security. This was despite the intensification of assistance following the 2009 kidnapping of two Canadian diplomats and six European tourists by AQIM. Through 2009, President Touré repeatedly requested U.S. assistance in tackling AQIM, stating that with U.S. help and equipment, Malian forces stood ready to counter the extremists operating in the northern part of the country.
U.S. security assistance programmes comprised three major elements: education for individual officers, unit training by Special Forces teams (SOF), and equipment transfers aiming to increase combat readiness. In 2009, for example, the U.S. transferred 37 4x4 trucks and communications equipment worth $ 4.5 million to the Malian Army, and dispatched Special Forces units to train Malian units.There are, however, indications that the assistance may not have played the role it was meant to play. Analysts suspect that portions of U.S. assistance were directed away from fighting AQIM and toward arming northern Tuareg battalions friendly to the government, while training and equipping specific units brought mixed results. Systemic institutional weaknesses in the Malian Army, including inadequate defence management systems and corruption, rendered assistance ineffective. U.S. interviewees also recognised that the focus of their engagement—a ‘train-and-equip’ approach prioritising improvements in tactical effectiveness and aerial supply to remote bases—was misplaced in the Malian context.