Delivering on the U.S. pledge to assist Mali in creating a self-sustaining crisis response team within the Gendarmerie, U.S. Ambassador Dennis Hankins presented this specialized unit with an equipment donation valued at more than 3 million US dollars at a ceremony held August 16 in Bamako. The equipment was supplied by the Department of Justice, International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program, and the U.S. Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA), which provides antiterrorism training and equipment to law enforcement agencies around the world.
The donation included six vehicles, 46 semi-permanent structure Hesco baskets to fortify military installations, 17 pallets of protection equipment, including uniforms, tactical vests, helmets and body armor, and a comprehensive plan for integrating the donated materials into the unit’s operations.
The U.S. Embassy and the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection have a longstanding partnership in the field of security. Following the 2015 terrorist attacks in Bamako, ATA proposed to establish and institutionalize a national Crisis Response Team within the Gendarmerie, first called Peloton d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (PIGN) and later expanded and renamed the Special Intervention Group of the National Gendarmerie (GSIGN).
The primary objective of forming the specialized unit was to address vulnerabilities to mitigate the impact of any future attacks. The training model concentrates on building the unit’s leadership capacity and providing it with adequate political, training, and material support to meet the challenge of defending the Malian people. The model emphasizes embedded mentors to train and advise the unit on how to institutionalize, manage, and sustain capability, integrate with other Malian first response teams, and translate training and coursework into practice and sustainability. Following the unit’s implementation in 2016, the Malian Ministers of Security and Defense approved a plan to expand the size and scope of the PIGN in 2017, and it was renamed to GSIGN.
Since 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako has devoted significant resources to assist Mali in its efforts to restore safety and stability for its citizens through this specialized taskforce. In remarks at the ceremony, Ambassador Hankins commented on this commitment, saying “With the GSIGN, we make major investments in the training of members in essential skills. But today’s donation is about equipment. We know security professionals need both skills and the right equipment. With this equipment, the GSIGN will be more effective in the fight against terrorism.”
Minister of Security and Civil Protection Colonel-Major Daoud Aly Mohammedine, Deputy Director General of the National Gendarmerie Amadou Camara, as well as a staff member from the United States Congress, joined Ambassador Hankins at the ceremony.