Cablegate Chronicles: The Soldier Who Survived the Ambush

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An unexpectedly accomplished solider provides an assessment of a joint US-Mali training exercise.


FROM: BAMAKO, MALI
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: DECEMBER 17, 2009
CLASSIFICATION: SECRET
SEE FULL CABLE

¶4. (S) After the ceremony XXXXXXXXXXXX called over one, rather unimpressive soldier, an older, rail thin man with a scraggly beard and bloodshot eyes who had been lounging against a motorbike in a dirty T-shirt inside of a warehouse. He explained that in spite of appearances, this was one of the ETIA's best men, noting that he had been one of the few survivors of a July 4 ambush of a Malian Army patrol by Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (see IIR 6 958 0087 09). When asked how the training had gone, the soldier said if he had known at the time of the ambush what he had learned over the course of the JCET, it never would have happened. He cited in particular learning why and how to establish a mobile patrol post, digging and manning foxholes which afford 360 degree, round-the-clock protection from potential assailants. The soldier said the Salafists would never confront the Army head-on, and if the Army engaged, they would flee, but if there is not proper security, they will creep back and murder you in the most cruel, unimaginable ways. 

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