Mali’s astonishing move into TOP 3 among West African military powers

The Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) had a reputation as an African force that was pitiful. The FAMa's frailty was demonstrated by the terrorists' success in the Republic of Mali, one of Africa's largest countries and the largest in West Africa, with an area of 1,241,238 km2. Thanks to the engagement between Russia and Mali, it is now only a very distant and ancient memory in people's minds.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The latest Global Fire Power 2022 ranking of the most powerful armies in the world shows a new reality. It will now be required to adopt new habits in order to determine Bamako’s position in the ranking of the armed powers of Africa and even the world’s armies.

The latest West African Military Power Ranking reveals Mali’s astonishing growth. On the top sub-regional army list of the Global Fire Power’s (GFP) PowerIndex (‘PwrIndx’), Colonel Assimi Gota’s nation is alongside Ghana and Nigeria.

The GFP website says its list uses more than 50 factors in its internal formula to determine a given country’s Army Power Index score. It also enables smaller, more technologically sophisticated nations to compete against larger, less advanced ones while providing the final standings.

A global power’s projected conventional military might is finally shown thanks to the addition of some bonuses and penalties for refinement objectively. A total of 36 countries are included in the annual Defense Review of African Military Force (2022).

Mali is no longer the weakest it has been in recent years. The county has achieved a real feat in just a few months by rising to an honourable place which makes it a giant in West Africa.

Russia drags Mali into the regional power equation

The Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) had a reputation as an African force that was pitiful. The FAMa’s frailty was demonstrated by the terrorists’ success in the Republic of Mali, one of Africa’s largest countries and the largest in West Africa, with an area of 1,241,238 km2. Thanks to the engagement between Russia and Mali, it is now only a very distant and ancient memory in people’s minds.

Indeed, despite the Russian-Ukrainian war, Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued to equip Mali with heavy weapons. These are aircraft, tanks, armoured vehicles, ammunition and several weapons of war that are delivered to Malian troops regularly. The soldiers of Colonel Assimi Gota have shifted the balance of power in the theatre of operations against terrorist organisations as a result of this gift of weapons.

With the deployment of the Malian soldiers into desert military camps, the terrorists are now in disarray. They are now hunted down to their sanctuaries, which they desert during each one-to-one combat with the FAMa.

West African military powers and Mali boss size

With a PwrIndx score of 2.3829 (a score of 0.0000 is considered “perfect”), Bamako became the third best army in West Africa, with its 100th place in the world rankings. Only giant Nigeria (ranked 35th out of 142 with a PwrIndx* score of 0.5745) and Ghana (ranked 96th thanks to its PwrIndx score of 2.3098) are ahead of Assimi Goïta’s country.

What is Mali’s military power?

Mali is now ahead of Côte d’Ivoire, which ranks 112th with a PwrIndx* score of 2.7392. The country of President Alassane Ouattara is, therefore, 12 points behind Bamako.

Mauritania is ranked 125th with a 4.3067 PwrIndx score. It is followed in the West African zone by Burkina Faso (ranked 130th with a 4.7216 PwrIndx score). Senegal, far too weak militarily, is absent from the 142 countries included in the 2022 ranking.

What changed for Mali?

The colonels who were installed into power by force in August 2020 had shifted their allegiance from France to Russia and had been fighting Islamists militarily since 2013. The Islamic insurgency came to power after a military coup in 2012 when Islamic extremists took control of major cities in the country’s north. In 2013 military intervention led by former colonial power France pushed the extremists out of these cities. France and the UN continue to fight extremist rebels who regularly carry out attacks.

In May 2022, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told RIA Novosti that FAMa was able to go on the offensive against terrorists as a result of cooperation with Russia in the field of security, which resumed in 2019.

Mali’s cooperation with Russia is already bringing impressive good results, the diplomat stressed. He noted that the Mali army could conduct reconnaissance and air attacks.

“Mali buys military equipment, aircraft, weapons and other equipment from Russia,” Diop said, stressing that his country also receives technical support and specialists from Russia.

Mali began modernizing its army by acquiring state-of-the-art military equipment from Russia. In 2021, Mali received new military equipment from its Russian ally. Malian Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs Colonel Sadio Camara said his country received military equipment, including combat helicopters, latest generation radars and many other materials necessary in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. 

Mali received four Mi-171 type helicopters (a newer version of Mi-8), weapons and ammunition. The Russian Federation donated weapons and ammunition while the country purchased the four helicopters, said Colonel Sadio Camara.

In 2022, the country received four more helicopters, including 4 MI-24P type combat helicopters, 4th generation radars and other combat equipment. The radar is identified as Protivnik-GE/59N6-TE mobile air defence radar.


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