France Ministry of Defence, March 25, 2016 - Since February 28, 2016, Operation Ossau is taking part in parts of Gourma and Ansongo-Menaka, Mali in support of the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa).
This is the largest joint operation since the launch of Barkhane in terms of duration and resources committed. The extent of the action zone led to the creation of a combined air mobile arms battle group (GTIA-A, French: Groupement tactique interarmes à dominante aéromobile) which provide Operation Ossau with mobility and responsiveness.
Still ongoing, the operation is focused on Menaka and Gossi. There are 600 French and 200 Malian soldiers who are engaged in the control of this area of operation and security.
Ossau needed a number of reinforcements from France, Ivory Coast, Niger and Chad. Among these reinforcements the air mobile sub-group (SGAM, French: Sous-groupement aéromobile) from Madama, Niger North, moved to Gao, Mali, where was already another SGAM.
The merger of these two units led to the creation of the GTIA-A which now has 18 aircraft: four Gazelle, four Tiger, three NH90 Cayman, six Puma plus Pilatus aircraft. This GTIA-A is placed directly under command of the joint N'Djamena theater post.
GTIA-A is a maneuver unit capable of conducting several simultaneous actions. Their response capabilities allow it to reach areas inaccessible by ground vehicle and accelerate responses and lead action tempo of the theater.
As part of Operation Ossau GTIA-A has been used to drop commandos searching for suspects and possible caches camps or to search for terrorist elements reported by FAMa. To gain even more responsive, helicopters were directly assigned from time to time with the units engaged on the ground.
For the first time, the GTIA-A may conduct its tasks independently or coordinated with ground troops via helicopter maneuver and command (HPMC). The HMPC speeds up the time of decision and projection.
Operation Ossau aims to deny freedom of movement to the terrorist armed groups (GAT). Units conduct reconnaissance and area control both on foot, ground vehicle or by helicopter. They also maintain contact with the local people and authorities.
Operation Barkhane includes 3500 troops which mission, in partnership with the G5 countries of the Sahel, is to fight against the terrorist armed groups that can act in the Sahel-Saharan strip.