The subject of this post was brought on by something I read this morning on a news article. To quote the article:

By fighting alongside Malian forces, “France is signing a death warrant for French people around the world, opening the gates of hell,” Hamaha said. “This will be a long war…more dangerous than Afghanistan and Iraq.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the bold statement. How exactly are you going to back this threat up, Mr. Omar Hamaha, commander of Ansar Dine (an Islamist movement allied with al-Qaeda). So I began thinking about and researching what ground combat would actually look like in Mali, how would it compare to our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what are French forces on the ground most likely expected to face.

Terrain

Map: Mali compared to Texas
Map: Mali compared to Texas

Mali is a large country, almost twice the size of Texas. I’ve attached a comparison map for all of you visual learners out there. The nation is shaped sort of like a butterfly. The Northern wing (or the portion on the right for all of you hopeless humans out there) is Northern Mali (also known as Azawad) – where all the fighting is. Northern Mali in its entirety is located in the Sahara desert. while the Southern portion is more fertile and “green.”