News that the U.S. Department of Defense is contemplating a major drawdown in West Africa comes as the region is in crisis. For Americans, the Sahel crisis raises a fundamental question: Beyond basic humanitarian concern, if the Sahel falls apart, why should Americans care?
Jan 3, 2020 The Hill
When asked about their heroes, one name comes up with French Army officers more than any other: Hélie Denoix de Saint Marc. Saint Marc lived an extraordinary life, to be sure. But his story also contains important lessons about modern warfare and counter-insurgency warfare in particular, the work of training local forces, and the imperative of aligning military means with realistic political objectives.
Jul 25, 2019 War on the Rocks
As two RAND researchers join millions of others in eagerly awaiting the final season of Game of Thrones, they reflect on one of the show's central themes: rival views of the nature of power and justice.
Apr 11, 2019 The RAND Blog
The Trump administration's Africa strategy combines a turn away from counterterrorism as a priority, emphasis on trade, and working to help Africans solve their own problems, all of which could be opportunities for a more positive relationship. The implied prioritization of great power competition, however, suggests the real risk of a return to Cold War-era approach.
Dec 20, 2018 The Hill
The Cameroonian government is becoming more authoritarian under President Paul Biya. His re-election could be bad news for Cameroon and the region, but also for the United States.
Oct 26, 2018 United Press International
How the U.S. Military Learned to Learn in World War I: Lessons from the American Expeditionary Forces
The U.S. military generally believes it has little to learn from its allies. But during World War I, the more open the Americans were to their allies’ wisdom, the better they fought and the less they suffered.
Aug 22, 2018 War on the Rocks
Gen. Vincent Desportes and Col. Michel Goya draw on careers focused on the study and practice of war and share a grimmer and more Hobbesian vision than what one normally meets in French public debates. This makes them appealing guides to the dark world in which the French now find themselves.
Jan 5, 2018 War on the Rocks
At first glance the comparison between the French military operations in Mali and America’s involvement in Afghanistan is compelling, and in some important ways, accurate. It also presents some fundamental differences that give reason for optimism in France.
Dec 1, 2017 War on the Rocks
The French Joint Force G-5 Sahel plan offers the possibility of strengthening the Sahel nations' efforts to combat terrorism. Supporting the French initiative is a worthy undertaking, provided, of course, that everyone understands what it is and is not.
Nov 6, 2017 The Hill
Niger is at the epicenter of the war on terror, with local and regional violent groups based there and entering the country from nearly every side. U.S. troops are there to train Niger's security services and not to fight. They are also assisting French forces who are fighting there.
Oct 25, 2017 The Hill
What a 1963 Novel Tells Us About the French Army, Mission Command, and the Romance of the Indochina War
The novel La 317e Section (The 317th Platoon) informs and reflects an operating style rooted in the French Army's collective memory of the colonial wars. Colonial operations tended to be low-budget, small-footprint missions that placed junior officers in positions of considerable authority and responsibility. Service promised quick glory but was also more dangerous.
Sep 20, 2017 War on the Rocks
Developments in the Sahel are cause for alarm. Despite the presence of an active French counterterrorism force and a UN peacekeeping mission, al Qaeda groups are thriving. The region would benefit from approaches that combine police and military operations with economic development and improved governance.
Sep 14, 2017 The Cipher Brief
HBO's hit series “Game of Thrones” may be fantasy, but it explores many challenges that are familiar to real-world leaders. The military use of dragons and the dilemma these beasts pose is one recent example.
Aug 24, 2017 Scientific American
It's time for Paris and Washington to get together with the G5 nations of the Sahel and draft a strategy for achieving shared objectives. The French cannot do it alone or even with the support of the G5 nations. The U.S. would be penny wise but pound foolish to stay aloof or even just uphold the status quo.
Jun 23, 2017 U.S. News & World Report
Mali needs more international engagement, as well as serious pressure on the Malian state to strengthen its hold on the country. The key will be helping beyond just security force assistance and conventional economic development aid; Mali needs help governing.
Jan 23, 2017 U.S. News & World Report
The leaders of France, Mali, and Turkey have declared formal states of emergency. France's Hollande and Mali's Keïta, while responding to real threats, are risking democracy. Erdogan appears to be targeting democracy and using Turkey's recent failed coup as a pretext.
Aug 15, 2016 Breaking Defense
The assault rifle is a class of weapon that emerged in the middle of the last century to meet the needs of combat soldiers on the modern battlefield, where the level of violence had reached such heights that an entirely new way of fighting had emerged.
Jun 30, 2016 The Atlantic
This week's presidential election in Niger is of real importance for U.S. interests in Africa and the global campaign against militant Islamists. A clean and peaceful election would constitute a step forward that could help secure an effective counterterrorism partner in both the short and long term.
Feb 26, 2016 Quartz
The United States often approaches security assistance the same way it did in Vietnam, with the same results. A better way would be to focus on politics and shaping the political context.
Nov 18, 2015 The Cipher Brief
Burundi has been afflicted by political violence since April. President Pierre Nkurunziza, who helped bring peace to the country in the last decade, is risking everything for the sake of staying in power. He is dragging the country backwards after 10 years of progress.
Nov 18, 2015 Newsweek
There is a French way of warfare that reflects the French military's lack of resources and its modest sense of what it can achieve. They specialize in carefully apportioned and usually small but lethal operations, often behind the scenes.
Nov 17, 2015 Politico
President Obama's decision to deploy 300 soldiers to Cameroon to help combat the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram is welcome news. The U.S. is stepping in at the right time, in the right way, by providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support that will greatly enhance Cameroon's and others' chances.
Oct 18, 2015 U.S. News & World Report
While there is a need for stepped up military and police efforts against the self-proclaimed Macina Liberation Front, Mali's policymakers and their international partners need to focus on countering revivalist Islam, ideally by promoting Mali's other Islamic traditions, while finding ways to calm the inter-communal competition.
Sep 8, 2015 Newsweek
The United States' relationship with France should be recognized and strengthened. France retains the military capability and the political moxie to contribute significantly and aggressively to collective responses to security threats to the Atlantic Alliance.
Mar 30, 2015 Newsweek
The March 7 terrorist attack that killed five people in a nightclub in Bamako, Mali, underscores the importance of international support for the West African country, which has become another front in the struggle against Islamist radicalism.
Mar 13, 2015 U.S. News & World Report
The good news is that Mali's latest attempt at peace presents a real opportunity. The bad news is that all the reasons that previous agreements failed are still present.
Mar 11, 2015 The RAND Blog
France is not the problem when it comes to defending Jewish lives and Jewish rights. With a few exceptions, the French state and nation have been stalwart on these issues, if only because the French government has understood that those who strike at Jews usually are striking at values dear to France.
Feb 13, 2015 U.S. News & World Report
Operation United Assistance, which includes the deployment of 3,000 U.S. military personnel to West Africa to respond to the Ebola crisis, is a welcome recognition of the range of missions the military is increasingly able to tackle, particularly in disaster-management assistance.
Oct 10, 2014 Modern Healthcare
The launch of Barkhane, a new military operation by France, signals a change. Rather than simply reacting to an emergency as it did in Mali, France is committing to a long-term counterterrorism campaign, a much greater and more public commitment. This is welcome news for the United States.
Jul 29, 2014 U.S. News & World Report
There needs to be more frank and precise thinking about the kind of support allies are able and willing to provide. Counting on Europeans even just to pull as much weight as they have in the past is an increasingly doubtful proposition.
Apr 9, 2014 Defense One
The coincidence of the passing of Nelson Mandela last week with France's decision to intervene in the Central African Republic highlights a number of inconvenient truths about Africa and the role of the international community in its affairs.
Dec 13, 2013 U.S. News & World Report
Free and fair elections are important, to be sure, but what Mali really needs is a leader who is dedicated to democracy, unity and reform of Mali's politics and institutions, write Stephanie Pezard and Michael Shurkin.
Jul 26, 2013 U.S. News & World Report
Last week's terrorist attack at the In Amenas gas complex in Algeria, along with the recent success of the militant groups fighting government forces in Mali, indicate al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are gaining influence in North Africa. RAND experts weigh in on the latest developments.
Jan 24, 2013
There is a danger in viewing Mali through the prism of counter-terrorism, since the rebel element there is tangled up in movements and groups with a wide variety of interests and motives, ranging from sincere religious conviction to local political rivalries to base economic opportunism, writes Michael Shurkin.
Jan 18, 2013 USA Today
No solution is likely to offer more than a short-term reprise if it is not accompanied by real progress toward resolving Mali's political crisis and strengthening the Malian state and Malian democracy, write Stephanie Pezard and Michael Shurkin.
Jan 17, 2013 U.S. News & World Report
France should coordinate military action with efforts to engage with local factions to use as partners and proxies, write Stephanie Pezard and Michael Shurkin. This is, in effect, how France conquered and secured northern Mali in the first place a century ago.
Jan 17, 2013 CNN