Mali Style

Vice has published fascinating footage they filmed during an insurgent assault on a Mali city. The troops seem to adopt the Oscar Pistorius tactical doctrine and shoot indiscriminately at a court house, deserted buildings, through closed doors into empty rooms and at each other until they run our of ammunition and have to call the French for help. The first 2:30 minutes are an introduction about the conflict and can be skipped.

Many thanks to Ryan for the tip.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • I think they’d be better off letting a bunch of 12 year old Call of Duty players lead their militia. I don’t think a single one of them even knows what the sights on their weapons are even for!

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      The same thought occurred to me. You must bear in mind that these troops have no education, little training, low wages and are lucky if they are allowed to shoot a magazine full of rounds each year for practice.

      The flip side is that their opponents are no better and are also only able to cause indiscriminate destruction. While these troops were shooting at shadows, the insurgents were blowing themselves up and killing civilians.

      • orly?

        “You must bear in mind that these troops have no education, little
        training, low wages and are lucky if they are allowed to shoot a
        magazine full of rounds each year for practice.”

        Nothing really wrong with that correct?

      • Man pippy

        Actually given that’s the case, maybe the french/u.s should try training them on the cheap using fps computer games. All you’d need is a computer with a dummy rifle controller that only fires when you shoulder and get a good cheekweld on it (so aiming and firing properly becomes a habit). They don’t even need the internet a local LAN network would suffice.

        The problem with normal training is that if it isn’t supervised by western forces, standards slip, and you get the current skills on display, in this regard video game fps ‘rules’ would be a good way of keeping skills up to a certain basic standard.

        Western special forces already use advanced fps simulators like ARMA to coordinate missions on a tactical level, but malians can use them to keep certain basic skills up to scratch. Studies have also shown fps shooters increase searching skills in real life too.

        • RobGR

          Yes, we need to keep training foreign forces because that always works out to our benefit…… It’s a toss up who’s worse, the military dictatorship or the Islamic fundamentalists. We obviously have our bias, but in the end the people stuck in between these warring maniacs will be the ones who are indiscriminately slaughtered by both sides. Africa, always a good time. So, let’s see, will the French pull out and then we will enter in order to fill the power vacuum… I think there is a history lesson somewhere in there, but who cares, no one pays attention to history.

    • Mr_Langford

      90% of all combat videos that I’ve seen of American soldiers show them basically firing rounds off into the distance without much aiming. So.

      • The difference is that American troops in Afghanistan are engaging enemies at medium to long range in open environments. These guys were IN A BUILDING surrounded by the militia.

      • Yellow Devil

        Keep in mind that many POV combat video are not exactly lined up with the rifle sights so it may appear at times it is not being “aimed” at anything in particular. Also, there is a difference between aimed fire and suppression fire. FYI.

      • RobGR

        Excellent video on the ol youtube titled – Unbelieveable Ambush in Afghanistan with the description “US Army soldiers are ambushed in Panjwai in Afghanistan. View from helmet camera.” It’s quite unbelievable actually and I suggest anyone who hasn’t seen it, watch it. The opening seconds capture what could have been a horrific incident of fratricide.

    • Man pippy

      And airsofters and paintballers would be there special forces.

  • Lance

    Lots of good AK action. Seems most Mali units use AKMs. a few Chinese Type 56s seen too. BRDM-2s and BTR-80s seem to be the most popular APCs used in the fighting. Seems Malis forces counter attack faultered part 2 is French forces coming to save the day.

  • Stu

    So painful to watch…

  • KC

    How would we look without air support, intel, medical and or logistical support? You guys are tough. Chances are this was just a staged event for the cameras anyway. I don’t know many reporters that go into “uncleared” buildings. Like most of the news these days, this footage was probably faked.

    • tincankilla

      check out part 2, i posted the link in the comments – there’s lots of video of dead child soldiers, in case you’re concerned about veracity.

    • 032125

      Clearly, you don’t know anything at all about Vice.

  • El Duderino

    Look around and you will see many pictures of African militia using their AKs as seats by monopoding the magazine with the buttstock in the dirt. Gun nuts they ain’t.

  • Nadnerbus

    The troops were pretty amateurish to my eye, but they at least seemed pretty willing. The biggest shortcoming I saw was the lack of any coherent chain of command, radio communication (they were using cell phones), or unit cohesion (friendly fire). When a corporal is arguing with a major about what to do next, your military has problems.

    • Dale

      Cell phones have been a massive equalizer in Africa- for a poorly funded army they require little to no training to use, and offer more advantages than a radio in some circumstances for armies that lack training and a functional infrastructure. They’re also durable, inexpensive, highly portable and diminutive in size; this may not seem like much, but the Nokia cell-phone (remember the ones that first came out in the late 90s and early 2000s?) were built like bricks, and their copies and subsequent models are no different.

      That said, C’est L’afrique quoi… What else were you expecting?

      • Nadnerbus

        Not expecting too much, but I was at least a little impressed with their spirit. Given decent training, better equipment, and a western style command structure with competent commanders, I’d be willing to bet they’d be fairly effective troops. Especially by African standards.

        No argument about the cell phones, but the friendly fire illustrates their limitations. A radio broadcast calling for a cease fire would have put a quicker end to that than trying to find the correct number and getting the other party to pick up.

  • 08:00 – Did I see a guy firing his AKM gangsta’ style?

  • PCP

    Frankly, considering the results of the last time the Malian army faced. I’m not surprised at the quality of the current crop of Songhai warriors. In fact I believe both them and the Al Qaeda would already have lost the war if the Tuareg Nationalists hadn’t close to zero resources and a little less political and idealistic naivete. Those are pretty much people who have thrived on the Sahara for God knows how long, and if that didn’t killed them it I doubt much things in this world would. A shame really as the never was Tuareg nation could maybe have being a decent ally for the western world in that region.

  • Machine Gun

    The first guy was wearing MARPAT Woodland?

    • orly?

      Could be from China

  • tincankilla

    Here’s part 2: “‘Ground Zero – Mali’ was shot in Gao, Mali, on February 21, 2013. Malian soldiers, while very brave, are almost completely untrained and had great difficulty fighting less than a dozen jihadists, some of whom were children. They fired wild bursts of automatic fire everywhere, destroying the city center. The Malians soon ran out of ammunition and had to wait for the French to show up and save the day.”

    • Suburban

      You’re in a real tough spot when you’re waiting for the French to come and rescue you.

  • RedZone

    what is the french soldier (in part 2 at 2:02) armed with? appears to be a long/heavy barrel famas with an augmented scope of some kind? cant seem to find a varient that matches the barrel profile or brake…

    • Mikaël

      It’s a rifle grenade… The Famas F1 was developed in the 70’s and the French army is still using the exact same rifle. Hence why they still use these antiquities.

      As for the scope it is a Scrome J4, widely used in the French military.

      • hi

        Scrome J4 is a 4x magnification sight with illuminated dot, right?

        • snmp

          Scrome J4 have illuminated dot if you have the lighting module, the scope is near the Zeiss/Hensoldt/ Fero Z24 or Kern 4X24

      • RedZone

        Thanks for that, I had considered the possibility of a rifle grenade but assumed (incorrectly) they had been retired long ago in favor of under barrel launchers. seems to be an APAV40 if I have correctly identified it…

      • Fire in the hole

        Because it stills a reliable bullpup assault rifle.
        Been all over the world since its creation.
        It ain’t an antiquity .
        It’s very accurate, even 600 metres away.