Terrorism, acute food shortages, the coronavirus pandemic, and climate change have all taken a toll on the security and humanitarian situation in the Sahel making security in the region tenuous.

The security situation in the G5 Sahel has continued to worsen, despite some successes on the ground. Boko Haram terrorists continue to operate with near impunity in and around the Lake Chad Basin region while violent extremists allied to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda operate freely in many of the region’s countries.

Meanwhile, dire food shortages plague the region where 20 million people, including five million children, face acute malnutrition.

The solutions to the many problems facing the Sahel and West Africa are not just military. Yet, the French believe that the military situation has to be addressed first and stabilized before the other factors can be effectively tackled. They already have about 5,100 troops in the region, with the majority being in Mali — a former French colony. They’ve also created the Special Operations Task Force Takuba (which means saber in Taureg). 

Takuba will ultimately consist of a 50-100 man French contingent and Special Operations elements from numerous European nations including Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Spain Belgium, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands. Eventually, the plan is to have 500 operators in the task force.

The first 100 troops, comprised of French and Estonian SOF, are on the ground already.

About 60 Czech troops are soon arriving; 200 Italian SOF will arrive within the next several days and be on the ground before the end of August. Sweden, which has committed 150 troops to the task force, is expected to deploy its forces early next year. 

Most of these nations already have SOF units deployed in the region conducting Special Reconnaissance (SR), Direct Action (DA), and Foreign Internal Defence (FID) missions.