The actual ceremony took place last week under the supervision of the Supreme Commander among others, but the formal takeover occurred on Wednesday evening.
For reasons of security, the Swedish Armed Forces has decided not to disclose the new commander’s name. He will be referred to as Colonel P throughout the article.
Colonel P has just returned to Ménaka, where Task Force Takuba is deployed, after travelling through the region with his predecessor, French Brigadier-General Philippe Landicheff. Among other places, they have visited the French mission Operation Barkhane command, in which Task Force Takuba is a part. They have also met representatives of the UN and EU missions as well as the Swedish ambassador to Mali, Kristina Kühler, in the Malian capital Bamako.
“This is an important visit at this early stage. It’s vital to interlink and connect with key players, whom we will cooperate with” says Colonel P.
The key responsibilities of Task Force Takuba are advising, training and accompanying the Malian army in the fight against Islamist terrorist groups operating in the border region between Mali and Niger. Sweden has been part of the mission for nearly a year. So far, the mission has been French-led, with a Swedish deputy commander.
”The fact that Sweden now takes command is a clear indication of the confidence in the Swedish Special Forces. We have contributed with our capabilities and solved our tasks in an excellent way”, says Colonel P.
The Swedish command will last until 1 March 2022. The helicopters and the rapid reaction force that are part of the Swedish contribution will then be withdrawn and other countries will take the baton.
“There is a clear European interest in contributing to this important assignment. We’ve got great challenges ahead, but the strength of the multi-national Task Force Takuba and all its capabilities, combined with a clear French commitment, enable us to fulfill our assignments", says Colonel P.