#FieldVision | 'Organised crime and terrorism find fertile ground in fragile environments like in the Sahel. Our task is not an easy one.'
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Based in the Sahel, General Daniel Grammatico shares his experience in leading the EU Regional Coordination and Advisory Cell in the region:
'Having returned to RACC Headquarters in Nouakchott from a field visit to Chad, news reaches me of yet another carnage of civilians in the Sahel.
This time the terrorists have struck in Burkina Faso. At least 10 civilians were killed while driving their carts to a market town, according to media reports.
In August, the death toll of another terrorist attack in the same country was 47 people, thirty civilians and 14 army personnel. Other tragic recent attacks have occurred in Mali and Niger.
Together with Mauritania these countries make up the G5 Sahel, a network of Sahelian states who decided to get together to address common security challenges and fight terrorism. The Secretariat of the G5 Sahel is located in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott. The EU has headquartered the EU Regional Advisory and Coordination Cell for the Sahel (RACC) in Nouakchott to provide support and advice to the G5.
The people of the Sahel want to live in safety and under good governance. The EU integrated approach to our engagement in the Sahel is designed to help reach this objective. A solid and long-term partnership between the EU and the Sahel is of mutual importance. Crises are interconnected. And as Europeans we are impacted by developments in the Sahel. The long-term stability of the region will increase European security and reduce the pressure of migration flows in our direction.
The RACC ensures that the EU presence in the G5 Sahel countries is as effective as possible. How does it make a difference? Thanks to our presence, mandate and action, the security and defence expertise of the EU reaches our counterparts in a coordinated, timely and coherent manner. On the basis of our advice, our Sahelian counterparts can act more effectively as a credible and cohesive security and defence force. In practice, we join the dots between the various G5 State actors on the ground and the expertise and assistance provided by EU actors present in the region, namely the EU Delegations in the G5 Sahel countries, the two civilian (EUCAP) capacity building Missions in Mali and Niger and the (EUTM) military training operation deployed in Mali.
We work with our partners to make the concept of “regionalisation” a reality on the ground.
For the RACC to deliver on its mandate we also need to constantly interact with the many international and national actors engaged in the Sahel. Our engagement in the Sahel requires vision, realism and, most importantly, a clear understanding of the complexity of the situation.
The G5 Sahel cover an area larger than the European Union, though has only one fifth of its population. At the same time, the population has doubled in the last 20 years, and the population explosion is set to continue. Most of the population of the G5 Sahel countries is under-15s (47 %), making it the youngest region in the world. The struggle to access basic public services like security, justice, healthcare, education, and water is a daily reality. According to the World Bank, the average GDP per capita in the region is 45 times lower than in the EU. Organised crime and terrorism find fertile ground in this fragile environments. Our task is not an easy one.
Through effective teamwork within the Cell, with the three CSDP missions deployed in the region and together with the other Team Europe actors, the RACC is making a difference.
When interviewed for my position some time ago, I remember being asked, due to my military background as a French General: “How would a military man lead a civilian group”? For me, the answer was straightforward: The principles of leadership are universal. When you manage human resources in a multi-disciplinary team you deal with people and their individual potential. As a leader you aim to get the best out of them, playing to their strengths. This is the philosophy I have brought with me to my current position. I take great pride in the collective achievement of the RACC which is the result of individual efforts blended to achieve optimal impact.
After more than 40 years of professional experience, a big part of which was spent in crisis areas and war zones, the RACC has been an exhilarating learning experience.'
Daniel Grammatico is the former Head of the EU Regional Coordination and Advisory Cell for the Sahel (1 June 2019 to 31 December 2021).
Building a strong regional cooperation for a stable and safe Sahel
From a security perspective, the G5 Sahel countries – Chad, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania - face threats such as terrorism, trans-national crime, resurgence of armed rebellion and inter-communal conflicts. Such menaces go far beyond the capacity of their security and defence structures to address them.
Due to the increased deterioration of the security situation in the Sahel and aiming at strengthening the G5 Sahel regional cooperation structures and supporting cross border cooperation, the Council of the European Union underlined the importance of the regionalisation of its Common Security and Defence (CSDP) action by creating the EU Regional Advisory and Coordination Cell (RACC) was created in June 2019.
As part of the wider EU engagement in the region, the RACC supports G5 Sahel structures and countries to enhance regional cooperation and operational capabilities in the field of defence and security, in compliance with international law, human rights and the EU Strategic Approach to women peace and security.
 As of February 2022, General Raymond SAUSIN will take up the duties of Head of the RACC.