By William Tucker
The U.S. has undertaken a series of airlifts to support French combat troops in the landlocked nation of Mali. Although many European nations have capable militaries, they often rely on the U.S. to do much of the heavy logistical lifting. U.S. capabilities in moving heavy equipment by air into some of the most remote areas on earth is unparalleled. Troops engaging in the nascent stages of ground combat need to be resupplied quickly and cannot always wait for oceanic travel followed by rail or road convoys. In cases such as Mali, airlifts are a natural solution for rapid resupply while other avenues are worked out for a sustainable, longer-term mission.
Naturally, the U.S. isn’t supporting the French mission simply for the sake of doing so. For years, the U.S., and others in the North African region, have attempted to coordinate anti-militant activities. These types of actions take time to develop into a long term, functional security relationship. The recent attack in Algeria and the militant takeover of Northern Mali in the midst of these security integrations is a prime example of the difficulties it takes for defensive cooperation. In the meantime, the U.S. will take the international intervention in Mali as a means to functionally improve cooperation in fighting North Africa’s militants.