Impact Studies
Protecting Air Assets Against Surface-to-Air Threats in Northern Mali
Providing intelligence

Protecting Air Assets Against Surface-to-Air Threats in Northern Mali


About the client

Our client is a renowned contractor that works on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance services, including operations, training, and technical support.

As part of peacekeeping efforts, our client was tasked with gaining a comprehensive intelligence picture of northern Mali's territories. As such, our client's capabilities and assets were employed to survey the vast swathes of north Malian desert. It was imperative that our client's air assets could operate in an environment where surface-to-air threats were rumoured to be possessed by various armed actors.

The opportunity

In the traditionally restless northern regions of Mali, decades of Tuareg resistance to Bamako's divisive rule towards the culturally-diverse northern regions, culminated in 2012 with the fourth Tuareg and Arab uprising. Various Tuareg and Islamist militias effectively ousted state security actors from key cities in the north and unknowingly created power vacuums outside of these cities. Here many nefarious actors sought to install themselves and threaten the lives of the regional population.

In an effort to provide security to northern Mali's citizens, an understanding of the security environment throughout the region needed to be established. Our client's aerial assets lent themselves to this task. However, numerous armed actors were rumoured to possess various types of anti-air assets that could endanger our client's aviation operation. Thus, interrogating the accuracy of such risks threats was imperative.

"... Violent Non-State Actors are in likely possession of man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADS) and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) which creates both intentional and unintentional risks for civil aviation operations." - European Union Aviation Safety Agency

What we did

Firstly, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of the threat actors within the client's area of operations (AO), established a baseline understanding of these actors' intentions, capabilities and historical activities, and determined key vulnerabilities of the client in order to critically inform the decision-making processes of our client's stakeholders.

In addition to the baseline, we then supplemented this intelligence with a human intelligence overlay comprising well-placed individuals who were privy to information regarding anti-air assets in our AO.

The outcome

Through our delivery of timely and actionable intelligence, we helped our client navigate and mitigate the region's numerous anti-air threats. We ensured the safety of our client's personnel and assets and led to the successful completion of their operations in northern Mali.

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