A Tier 1 Special Operations unit, attack helicopters, and lots more. This is what Sweden is ready to contribute to the new French-led counterterrorism task force in Africa.
Last year, France declared its commitment to defeating extremism in the Sahel region of Africa with the creation of Task Force TAKUBA.
In a brief press release, the Swedish Armed Forces stated that it “is still too early to say. . . exactly what the Swedish contribution [will be] but it will likely include personnel and helicopters from the Special Forces.”
The commandos will most likely come from the Special Operations Group (SOG). A combination of Delta Force and SEAL Team Six, SOG was established in 2011 after the Swedish Army’s and Swedish Navy’s Tier 1 SOF units were combined. Swedish SOF have been doing superb but quiet work in Afghanistan and Africa for years now. Besides counterterrorism, SOG specializes in Direct Action (DA) and Special Reconnaissance (SR); Sources familiar with SOF told SOFREP that the unit also conducts Foreign Internal Defence (FID), training foreign Special Operations units, decently well.
Task Force TAKUBA, which means “sabre” in the Tuareg language, will be a multinational joint Special Operations task force. Although the composition hasn’t been finalized yet, it will most probably contain Special Operations units from the following European nations: Ireland, Estonia, France, Finland, Latvia, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The U.S. and Germany have declined to contribute to the multinational unit. The task force is expected to be fully operational by this fall.
The additional troops will be joining about 200 Swedish warfighters deployed in the region.
France has taken a lead in combatting terrorism in West Africa. There is, after all, a natural connection between the region and France going back to the Scramble for Africa in the 19th century. There are approximately 5000 French troops deployed to the region. And they are quite kinetic. In three daring direct action operations that took place in December and January, French Special Operations elements destroyed three terrorist camps.
Often referred to as the G5 Sahel, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger have been plagued by extremism for years. The situation got so bad that at one point in 2013, Islamist terrorists almost defeated the Malian government. It was only after France counterattacked (Operation Barkhane) that the Jihadists were pushed back. Ever since that near-disaster, there has been a live insurgency in the region that is threatening to spiral to other parts of Africa.