The Cost of Operation Serval


Since the French intervention against terrorist insurgents in Mali began Jan. 11, France has spent €205 million ($267 million) on Operation Serval, including €91 million for strategic transport, €55 million for personnel and €59 million for miscellaneous costs associated with the effort.

France budgeted €630 million for overseas operations costs in 2013, but the funding represents a roughly 25% reduction in annual spending for OCO initiatives compared to previous years: Spending in 2012 totaled €870 million, while 2011 spiked to €1.246 billion, including €368 million for Operation Harmattan, France's contribution to Libya.

In Mali, where some 3,850 French troops continue to battle insurgents, the air force has conducted 130 sorties with 40 fighter jets, 35 support missions or backup missions and 55 transport missions.

By July, when the Malian government is expected to hold elections, Le Drian says he will reduce troop levels to 2,000. France will be involved with U.N. peacekeeping efforts and will retain 1,000 troops in the country for the foreseeable future. But while the military's exceptional charges associated with Mali might drop materially in the second, third and fourth quarters of 2013, costs will continue to accumulate. With almost 30% of the external operations budget consumed in the first quarter of this year alone, it is doubtful France can stick to the €630 million budgeted.

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