How the Operation Works – Hot Return Transport: Army Disarms in Mali

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The bulk of the Austrian army withdraws from Mali: logistics specialists from Gratkorn in Styria take care of the return transport. A hot mission in more ways than one.

Three military coups in just ten years, the last in May of the previous year. Attacks by Islamic terrorist groups. And now the feared Russian mercenary group Wagner is playing an increasingly important role in the country.

Mali is a country on the brink of collapse, in the middle of the African Sahel, hot, dry, dusty. A dangerous place, also for the international soldiers stationed here. France decided to withdraw its troops this spring.

64 soldiers returned home unharmed
Austria has been represented by soldiers on the ground for nine years. And that will remain so for the time being, Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner emphasized recently. Nevertheless, 64 soldiers have just returned from Mali – fortunately unharmed. The reason: Austria has transferred the management of the EU training mission for local forces to the Czech Republic.

Tons of material have to go to the airport
The smooth return home is also due to three Styrian soldiers: Major Patrick Schuster and two NCOs from Supply Regiment 1 from Gratkorn traveled with soldiers from the Fighter Command to Mali at the end of June. The logistics specialists there organize the return transport of 20 vehicles, some of which are armored (total 70 tons) and ten tons of equipment and materials such as computers, protective vests, tents and clothing.

Styria commute between the camp in Koulikoro and the airport in the capital Bamako, where they handle customs clearance and the loading of the Austrian Herkules plane, which flies several times to Mali. Working with local businesses is as challenging as the high temperatures and the onset of the rainy season – the military describes the situation as “walking a tightrope between safety and speed”.

17 Austrians stay in Mali
The Austrians don’t often have to deal with such gigantic logistical tasks, most recently in 2013 when they withdrew from the Golan, or in 2009 in Chad. At the beginning of August, the Styrian logisticians return home. In the future, however, up to 17 Austrian soldiers will remain in Mali.

Source: Krone

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