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'Dust and rocky roads' made half of German combat vehicles in Mali inoperative

Updated: May 27

Half the vehicles used by the German forces taking part in a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali have been forced out of action because of heat, dust and irregular terrain, the German Die Welt daily reports, citing military sources.

The military vehicles have been recently taken out of commission following a technical inspection as they were not fit for combat and were not properly equipped to withstand Malian day temperatures, which could often reach 50 Grad Celsius, Die Welt said in its report.

The German vehicles were apparently also not equipped for driving through anything except the European highways as “dust” and “rocky roads” were named among other reasons for the equipment going out of order.

The German military deployed to the West African country also complained about delays in delivery of the necessary replacement parts for the equipment to the UN base at Camp Castor located in the north-eastern Malian town of Gao. The state of the local maintenance facilities also leaves much to be desired, according to the report.

At the same time, the deputy commanding officer of the German contingent in Mali assured the journalists that malfunctioning equipment would not prevent the troops from fulfilling their tasks as part of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

However, he admitted that “operating conditions regularly push [the German forces] to the point of breakdown in terms of equipment.”

In the meantime, Die Welt also reported that the German Tiger strike helicopters, which were also sent to Mali and are meant to become fully operational by May 1, have to mostly stay on the ground, as they lack permission to operate at temperatures exceeding 43.26 Grad Celsius, while the average daytime temperature in the area exceeds 44-45 Grad Celsius.

The UN MINUSMA mission was established by the UN Security Council in April 2013 following an Islamist-supported Tuareg uprising in the north of Mali in 2012. The German Armed Forces has been supporting the mission from the very beginning.

In February 2017, Germany decided to increase the number of soldiers serving in Mali from 650 up to 1,000, making the mission one of the biggest German foreign military operations, second only to the one in Afghanistan.

In the meantime, faulty combat vehicles in Mali seem to be just a part of a bigger problem the German military face as they struggle with malfunctioning equipment almost “on all fronts.”

In late February, Andre Wüstner, the head of the German Armed Forces Association (DBwV), told the Rheinische Post daily that the country’s army lack “everything” from combat-ready helicopters and aircraft to night vision equipment.

About a half of the 225 battle tanks currently possessed by the German army are out of service, as reported by the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

The German media also repeatedly reported about the poor combat readiness and technical malfunctions of German helicopters and aircraft. Most recently, Deutsche Welle said that only 38 out of Germany’s 89 Tornado fighter jets are combat ready and only 25 out of 57 transport airplanes are operational.

The percentage of the combat ready strike helicopters in the German Armed Forces vary between 18 and 32 percent depending on the type of a gunship, Deutsche Welle adds. Similar problems also affect armored personal carriers and sea vessels.

In October 2016, Inspector of the Army Lieutenant General Joerg Vollmer warned that the use of long-outdated communication devices could even jeopardize German military’s contacts with the armies of their NATO allies.

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