African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) - The United States has approved $96 million dollars for Nigerian and other troops from African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).
This was disclosed by the assistant secretary of state for Africa Affairs, Ambassador Johnie Carson, at a recent testimony before the U.S House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
"Following the start of French operations on January 11, AFISMA began expediting the deployment of African troops to Bamako. Troops from Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Togo, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Chad are already in Mali. Subject to Congressional notification, the Department of State intends to provide up to $96 million during Fiscal Year 2013 to support AFISMA" the US top official said.
"As part of this assistance effort, we provided strategic airlift for the deployment of the Togolese contingent to Mali and are providing logistics support for AFISMA troops deployed in Mali," he also added.
During his testimony, Ambassador Carson also informed the House Committee of the effort of the European Union in the Mali crisis.
According to him, the European Union (EU) is leading efforts to reform and rebuild the Malian military through an EU Training Mission which has already begun deploying to Mali. Many other countries have stepped up to provide support.
Meanwhile, the United States Military have deployed its officers to Nigeria to identify gaps in training and equipment and to also accelerate training and equipping of deploying troops to Mali.
It is believed that the U.S Military team from the U.S Africa Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA) were instrumental to the training and prompt deployment of Nigerian army troops to Mali.
It would be recalled that during a January 30 donors' conference attended by over 90 countries and international organisations, and organised by the African Union in Addis Ababa, countries pledged over $455.5 million in support for Mali, AFISMA, and regional development.
By Abiodun Oluwarotimi