[Jemal Oumar] The Mauritanian army looks to enlist young graduates
2011-07-20 By Jemal Oumar for Magharebia in Nouakchott
After an upsurge in al-Qaeda violence, Mauritania is looking to beef up its air force capacity in order to monitor the vast Sahel-Saharan region.
The Mauritanian air force is looking for a few good pilots. The FAIM general staff launched an appeal last week for bilingual graduates with baccalaureate degrees in math to join the ranks of the nation's military.
According to military analyst Cheikh Ould al-Mukhtar, the July 13th announcement "comes during circumstances in which there is the need to strengthen the Mauritanian army in general, and the air force in particular, which is depended on heavily in the face of the al-Qaeda threat".
"The intervention of the air force in the recent battle of Wagadou was decisive in the victories achieved by the Mauritanian army against those armed terrorist elements, which are said to have acquired anti-aircraft weapons, constituting a dangerous change in the course of future confrontations with the organisation," Ould al-Mukhtar added.
The appeal coincided with the release of the results of this year's mathematics baccalaureate, the first held since the 1999 education reforms. Forty-four percent of candidates passed the exam, which teachers said was an accomplishment considering the subject is taught in French.
"The focus today on outstanding students in the mathematics department of course reflects the direction of the Mauritanian army to strengthen its military and air capabilities, as well as relying on the logistical military support it receives from some Western countries in view of it being used in fighting terrorists and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," said mathematics teacher Ali Ould Mohamed Ahmed.
Security sector employee Abdel Kader Ould Embarek told Magharebia that the air force recruitment drive was in line with moves by the Mauritanian government to strengthen military capacity in order to defeat al-Qaeda. He noted that the Mauritanian air force was "capable of striking al-Qaeda in the heart and at any moment, as happened in the Wagadou attack".
"And enlisting these students today will be a quality addition to our air force," Ould Embarek added.
As for retired military member Daho Ould Ibrahim, he told Magharebia that it was natural for the army to enlist "young members with qualifications, expertise and enthusiasm". He said it was "part of pumping new blood into the national army and replacing older officers, some of whom have retired and others are preparing for retirement".
"The Mauritanian army will also look for opportunities to train these young people outside of the country so they acquire the experience of the armies of some developed countries in line with the military situation of Mauritania, which faces the challenges of the threat of al-Qaeda, which is alleged to have received anti-aircraft weapons due to the ongoing war in Libya," he added.
Several successful students in this year's baccalaureate rushed the headquarters of the Military Chief of Staff in central Nouakchott to express their desire to take advantage of the opportunity to enlist in the air force.
"When I heard the news of the army enlisting air force officers, I came here quickly, preparing myself to participate in the exam," said Mustafa Ould Saad Boh. "I also consider my coming here as a fulfilment of the nation's call to protect it from terrorism and external enemies."