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To ask the Minister for Defence if he will report on the Irish troops currently participating in the EUTM Mali; if members of the Irish Defence Forces will participate in the UN peacekeeping force in Mali; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

 - Mick Wallace

 For ORAL answer on Thursday, 18th July, 2013.

 REPLY 

 On 17 January 2013, the Council of the European Union established the EU Training Mission (EUTM Mali). The mission was formally launched by EU Foreign Affairs Council on 18 February 2013 and its initial mandate is to last for fifteen (15) months.

The purpose of the mission is to provide military training and advice to the Malian Armed Forces in order to improve their capacity to maintain security in Mali and restore the authority of the Malian Government and the territorial integrity of the Malian State.

Twenty-two Member States are contributing over 500 troops, including 250 instructors and additional military personnel to EUTM Mali. Personnel deployed to the mission will not be involved in combat operations.

 On 26 February 2013, the Government approved the deployment of approximately eight (8) members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the EUTM Mali. Three (3) Officers and five (5) Non commissioned Officers were deployed to EUTM Mali on 23 March 2013, for a tour of duty of approximately five months. One officer, of Lieutenant Colonel rank, has been appointed Camp Commandant of the Koulikoro Training Camp, while one Commandant is employed in the Mission Headquarters in Bamako.

 The remaining six (6) personnel also deployed to Koulikoro form part of a joint infantry training team with the United Kingdom armed forces. Training for the first group of 650 Malian Armed Forces personnel commenced on 2 April 2013 and is progressing well. The Defence Forces training team will train two platoons of Malian Armed Forces personnel during their tour of duty. The training teams are due to rotate in early September 2013.

No formal request has been received from the UN for Defence Forces participation in the recently established United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA. However, the UN has advised the EU and other potential troop contributors of current shortfalls in key enablers, in this mission, which include Transport, Logistics, Engineering and Medical. The potential for the Defence Forces to contribute to MINUSMA is currently under consideration by the Defence organisation. No decision has been made at this stage as to whether Ireland will participate.

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