December 9, 2015:
Africa needs a lot of things, especially good training for its military personnel. In Mali, outside Bamako (the capital) the EU (European Union) has established a training center for officers and troops and has 400 trainers from European armies. The training center opened in early 2013 with the goal of training about 6,000 personnel (four infantry battalions and 3,000 support troops). The EUTM (EU Training Mission) provides a ten week course and did not become fully operational until 2014. EUTM costs about a million dollars a month to operate and will complete its mission (unless extended) in 2016. If there is enough success the program may be extended.
The EU trainers are good and respected by the Mali troops but the problem in this part of the world is sustainability and corruption. To have a long term effect the training has to be continuous in order to replace troops who leave the military (because of injury, end of service or retirement). This requires Mali to set up and operate training after EUTM leaves. The EU would help with this but it is up to Mali to run it. This is where the corruption becomes a problem. In Mali corruption is widespread and endemic. The corruption cripples most government services, especially those dealing with the army. Well, at least most of the time. Right now there is a very visible problem with Islamic terrorism and that makes government officials enthusiastic about having an efficient military. That will reduce corruption in the military until the danger has passed. At that point competent officers and well-run training will disappear.