Ban: UN Needs Tens of Thousands of Troops for Mali War

11,200 Seen as Bare Minimum for Protecting 'Key' Towns

Ever since French troops invaded Mali, the French government has been hoping to pawn the long-term occupation off on the United Nations. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon seems on board with that request, however, and has issued a report on the tens of thousands of troops he believes the UN needs for its war.

His recommendations include 11,200 troops as a bare minimum to control and protect certain “main” towns that are perceived to have the highest risk. He then calls for a “parallel force” at least as big to continue the offensive war against northern rebels.

As with most of the protracted international wars prosecuted in Africa, the UN envisions most of the troops being contributed from the other dirt-poor African nations in the surrounding area. Yet past wars, particularly in Somalia, have showed that while these nations can contribute troops for the right price, they are rarely combat-ready, setting the stage for even longer wars while they wait for those troops to get trained.

European nations have offered to send training units to Mali, but in a country this size with so many rebels and so much territory between towns for them to hide in, there is no reason to think the rebel factions will be easily uprooted, and to the contrary the deployments may encourage more insurgents from around the region.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.