Military planners prepare for war in Mali
By Tiemoko Diallo
BAMAKO (Reuters) - Military experts from Africa, the United Nations and Europe have drawn up preliminary plans to recapture northern Mali from al Qaeda-linked rebels, African officials said on Tuesday.
A source with knowledge of the plan said it will involve a force of more than 4,000 personnel, mostly from West African countries.
"Every military option will be used - ground and air," the source said, asking not to be named.
The crisis in Mali has become a security concern for Western governments worried its vast desert could turn into a training ground for militants.
Once an example of African democracy, it fell into chaos after a coup in March in the capital Bamako that toppled the president and paved the way for the rebel takeover of the north.
International military experts drew up the plan at a week-long meeting in Bamako and submitted it to the West African regional bloc ECOWAS for approval on Tuesday. The blueprint will then be reviewed by the United Nations Security Council in mid-November, setting the stage for action.
"We need to respond in detail to the Security Council on the logistics, timing, size and funding for the deployment of this mission," Desire Ouedraogo, president of the ECOWAS Commission, told military planners at a ceremony on Tuesday.
"So your conclusions will be crucial in the next step, of getting the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution authorising deployment." Continued...