Of the 550 troops from 22 EU nations sent to Mali, about 150 are trainers with the rest made up of mission support staff and force protection.
Training takes place under the control of French Brigadier General François Lecointre and is expected to continue for about 15 months.
"Objectively, it [the army] must be entirely rebuilt," General Lecointre is quoted by the BBC. "The Malian authorities are well aware of the need to reconstruct the army, very aware that Mali almost disappeared due to the failings of the institution."
This training is going on after the French-led intervention that began in January regained the main cities of northern Mali from Islamist groups.
France is now preparing to withdraw its 4,000 troops fighting in Mali, which will be replaced by forces from several West African countries. French President François Hollande said troop levels would be halved by July and reduced to about 1,000 by the end of the year.
The African force in Mali currently numbers about 6,300 soldiers.
All this could sound as a commonplace piece of news, if the previous experience of the kind had not taught the world that interfering in other nations’ affairs in support of one of the fighting sides very seldom yields the desired results. On the contrary, it quite often leads to the complication of already existing problems and emergence of new ones.
This is exactly what has happened with the so-called anti-terrorist struggle ever since it began shortly after the 9/11.
At that time it seemed that crashing Iraq and Afghanistan (the two countries in no way related to 9/11) would be enough to solve the problem.
It resulted in toppling the regimes in both countries, in creating some problems for alleged terrorists, but definitely not in the elimination of terrorism as such in either country.
More so, the Taliban in Afghanistan are presently on the rise and only waiting for spring to come to launch a new offensive against the diminished number of foreign troops and their puppets.
What is more important, the problems created by the Western invasion in Afghanistan resulted in the shift of al-Qaeda bases to other countries of the Great Middle East, like Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria or elsewhere.
The lesson does not seem to have dawned on the Western "anti-terrorist fighters" (the ones actually promoting the idea of state terrorism as a treatment against the evil they had created themselves). They applied the same methods to Libya, and the events in Mali are only the natural consequence of the ravage of that country by Western troops and their local poodles. When Muammar Gaddafi forces were defeated, the Tuaregs comprising an important part of the Colonel's guard were driven away from the country and for the most part settled in Mali thus creating a new stage for instability and insurgency. The radical Islamists in Mali simply made use of the momentum to launch an offensive against the government.
Then the French came and allegedly defeated the insurgents (although fighting is still going on in northern Mali). Now, as if trying to cement the "success", the French assisted by other EU allies are starting a training program for Malian soldiers. And again, it seems that they have not drawn any lessons from Afghanistan where local army and police trained by Western instructors have recently turned into a force responsible for the growing number of casualties among foreign troops as a result of "insider attacks".
Now one can only wonder where the wave of terrorism will be directed after the West temporarily establishes its military presence in Mali. Indeed, Africa is a vast continent and options are numerous.
A hint can be drawn from another story published by The New York Times. It tells of a UN Security Council decision authorizing a new "intervention brigade" for the Democratic Republic of Congo and granting it unprecedented mandate to take military action against rebel groups.
Therefore, the practice of arbitrarily designing the roles of "good guys" and "bad guys" is becoming much too common. But whether it will result in anything else rather than just a sharp increase of casualties (including casualties among civilians) is highly doubtful.
Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies