Remember those old “United Colors of Benetton” ads from the 90s? If not, I forgive you for not being as old as I am.  Suffice it to say, they were quite colorful and had an international flair…much like today’s “SOF Pic of the Day.”

Instead of models, these are soldiers shown during a rehearsal for a Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. That beats the hell out of their last assignment.

The men are from Task Force Takuba (TFT or TF Takuba). This was a European task force that advised and assisted the Malian armed forces from March 2020 until June 2022.

French in Mali
French soldiers and their military working dog in the Gao region of Mali. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Task Force Takuba: Europe’s Answer to the Sahel Crisis

Task Force Takuba (TFT) emerged as a beacon of European military cooperation, focusing its attention on aiding the Malian Armed Forces in navigating the increasingly complex Sahel security landscape. With the Sahel region being a hotbed of terrorist activity, especially in the Liptako area that sprawls across Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali, there was an imperative need for an international response.

Inception and Mission

Conceived in March 2020 by a consortium of European nations, TFT was a display of solidarity against the burgeoning terror networks in the region. Nations from Belgium to the United Kingdom signaled their support for a task force that would function under the French-led Operation Barkhane, aiming to counteract extremist factions.

The name “Takuba” pays homage to the traditional takuba sword, emblematic of the Sahel region’s rich history, and serves as a symbolic testament to the commitment of international forces to restore peace.

Key Operations

TFT didn’t delay in making its presence felt. Notably, during the “Opération Solstice” in collaboration with French and Nigerien troops, they mounted a significant offensive against the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). This operation not only dealt a blow to the terror organization but also fostered deeper ties between European forces and Niger.