The Swedish government is planning to send helicopters and 150 special forces operators to augment the French-led Special Operations Task Force in the Sahel, the Swedish Foreign Ministry said in a release. In January, SOFREP had reported that the Swedish government was contemplating the option and weighing the pros and cons. 

“The government has decided to submit a bill to the Riksdag (parliament) proposing Swedish participation,” the press release said. “The Swedish contribution is planned to consist of a helicopter-borne rapid reaction force of a maximum of 150 personnel.”

“Sweden’s participation promotes security in Mali and the Sahel region,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde said, adding “that, in its turn, [this operation] will make it easier to carry out development activities in Mali which are needed to promote sustainable and peaceful development in the country.”

“The decision will also mean we can contribute to the fight against international terrorism and ultimately also make Sweden safer and more secure,” the Minister said.

The proposed bill comes as an answer to France’s call for more European nations to join the fight in the Sahel. It is expected to win majority approval in the Riksdag.

Sweden would be joining the joint French-led Special Operations task force, Task Force Takuba, which will consist of Special Forces operators from several European countries. The operators will train, equip, assist and accompany troops from the G-5 Sahel region (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania) in their ongoing fight against Islamic jihadists from the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Operation Takuba will begin gearing up during the summer and is expected to be fully operational by the fall of 2020. Takuba, which in the Tuareg language means “Sabre,” will consist of a 50-100 man French unit and Special Operations elements from numerous European nations including Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Spain Belgium, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands. 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. Eventually, the plan is to have 500 operators in the task force.

The French have also beefed up their troop totals to 5,100 in the region, mainly in their former colony of Mali.