The coup in Guinea brought forward the debate on the status of special forces in West African armies. Since 2008, West Africa has experienced nine military coups: in Mauritania, Guinea, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Most were performed by elite units. Despite this, these special forces today remain the core of the anti-terrorism system in the sub-region.
Special forces soldiers are “soldiers who belong to very well-equipped units, they have quality training and generally have a certain autonomy”, explains a specialist in defense issues.
Characteristics that are as useful in the fight against terrorism as they are for the existing powers, which have long occupied two attitudes: to dissolve these elite units that Burkina did after the fall of Blaise Compaoré or to turn them into a guard. Praetorian who did Idriss Déby in Chad with the Directorate-General for Security Services of State Institutions.
Terrorist threats in the Sahel Today is driving progress for terrorist groups in the Sahel and the threat they represent for the whole sub-region governments to reconsider their position. Especially since France has also made the choice to gradually replace his Barkhane operation by Takuba, a group of European special forces.
“The problem is that the West African partners are concentrating on the operational capabilities of their elite units, without giving them a clear doctrine,” explains a former French officer, formerly stationed in the region. “To avoid overflows, you need to know why you have these devices and for what purpose,” he concludes.
Binta Sidibe, Vice President of the Kisal Observatory, Member of the Citizen Coalition for the Sahel
►Read also: After the coup, Guinea will start turning the page Alpha Condé