Yesterday we published the first part of an interview with Lt Colonel Manuel Monin, commander of the Belgian Army’s 12/13 Line Battalion. Below is the second and last part, centred on the role played by this unit in the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM).
Why is the 12/13 deployed in Mali rather than another battalion?
The EUTM sends military instructors from different countries to train the Malian armed forces. These instructors are focussed on their mission and so cannot ensure their own safety. The 12/13Li is co-responsible with a Spanish unit for their protection. All manoeuvre battalions take part in this programme on a rotational basis so this is not a task undertaken only by the 12/13Li.
Might one soon see the battalion involved in combat missions in North Africa?
Despite the point mentioned above on providing protection for training missions, the 12/13Li remains a combat battalion. If a political decision is taken, the 12/13Li is available for any mission which may be attributed to it.
What do you feel the future challenges are that the battalion might face in the war against terrorism?
On a national level, the January 2016 issue of the French fire brigade magazine summarised the biggest challenge as “Being prepared to be surprised.”
I think that we must again put into place a mechanism for joint planning and training with all the actors involved in this war and those who would have to manage the consequences of an attack on our national territory. This is urgent and we don’t do it enough.
On foreign theatres of operation, we must continue training as we do whilst being aware that we must constantly adapt to this very versatile and protean threat.