US on Training Mali Troops: We Made Mistakes

Gen Ham admits not enough focus on 'values, ethics, ethos'

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 25, 2013 7:45 AM CST

(Newser) – A senior American official has admitted the United States made mistakes in its training of the country's troops, reports the BBC. Gen. Carter Ham of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) said that training had focused on tactics and "technical matters," at the expense of teaching recruits about following the rule of law. "We didn't spend probably the requisite time focusing on values, ethics, and a military ethos," said Ham.

But considering how poorly the Malian army has been fighting, that tactics and technical matters training may have been lacking, too. Since rebels took control of the majority of northern Mali last year, 1,600 of Mali's 7,000 troops are estimated to have defected to the rebels' side, and those remaining have suffered a series of embarrassing and serious losses, reports the New York Times. “Without the help of the French,” said one town's mayor, the Islamists fighters "would still be here." So far, 2,000 French troops have arrived in Mali, along with 1,600 troops from Nigeria, Togo, Niger, and Benin, to help drive out the rebels.

In this Sept. 8, 2011 photo, Gen. Carter Ham, head of the US African command, attends a conference on terrorism in the Sahara in Algiers, Algeria.
In this Sept. 8, 2011 photo, Gen. Carter Ham, head of the US African command, attends a conference on terrorism in the Sahara in Algiers, Algeria.   (AP Photo)
Malian troops man an observation post outside Sevare, some 620 kms (400 miles)  north of Mali's capital  Bamako Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013.
Malian troops man an observation post outside Sevare, some 620 kms (400 miles) north of Mali's capital Bamako Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
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