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Big Money
07-08-2010, 14:56
Hello all,

Not an active member here, but hoped somebody could square me away none the less.

I am currently with the US Forest Service and have a potential opportunity to do some detail work in Mali; Pays Dogons. Keeping it very generic, can/will anyone please provide a brief synopsis of the security situation in that region, especially as it pertains to unarmed American tourists? In other words: I will be unarmed and probably not making any additional $$ on this trip- is the threat level such that it wouldn't be worth the risk?

Please respond via PM; if you wish to vet prior to sharing, feel free. Thanks in advance for any assistance or information you can provide, and many, many thanks for your service and for doing what you're doing. Stay safe ya'll.

Big Money

The Reaper
07-08-2010, 15:19
Hello all,

Not an active member here, but hoped somebody could square me away none the less.

I am currently with the US Forest Service and have a potential opportunity to do some detail work in Mali; Pays Dogons. Keeping it very generic, can/will anyone please provide a brief synopsis of the security situation in that region, especially as it pertains to unarmed American tourists? In other words: I will be unarmed and probably not making any additional $$ on this trip- is the threat level such that it wouldn't be worth the risk?

Please respond via PM; if you wish to vet prior to sharing, feel free. Thanks in advance for any assistance or information you can provide, and many, many thanks for your service and for doing what you're doing. Stay safe ya'll.

Big Money

How much overseas experience do you have currently?

TR

Big Money
07-08-2010, 15:33
How much overseas experience do you have currently?

TR

For the most part, in and outta Haiti 93-96. Short stints elswhere with 2/3; short trip to Panama in '89. Only trip over the Atlantic was personal business to Italy.

The Reaper
07-08-2010, 15:41
Expect terrorists, criminals, and a lot of shakedowns and corruption at all levels.

TR

Peregrino
07-08-2010, 15:44
Expect terrorists, criminals, and a lot of shakedowns and corruption at all levels.

TR

What he said. For specific details check the State Department website - they're responsible for formulating and disseminating Traveler's Advisories. For general country information the CIA Factbook is an open source document with a decent synopsis - it's also useful for information on surrounding countries incase you feel a need to evacuate overland. :D

Big Money
07-08-2010, 15:46
Additional info:

Originally, I had made myself known to our Washington Office after a mass e-mail recruiting natural resource and planning specialists to assist in recovery projects in Haiti. Although I don't totally understand the psychology, I felt compelled to throw my hat in the ring. Haven't heard anything back on that detail yet, but apparently I'm now on a "potential resource" list for overseas projects.

Big Money
07-08-2010, 15:53
What he said. For specific details check the State Department website - they're responsible for formulating and disseminating Traveler's Advisories. For general country information the CIA Factbook is an open source document with a decent synopsis - it's also useful for information on surrounding countries incase you feel a need to evacuate overland. :D

Expect terrorists, criminals, and a lot of shakedowns and corruption at all levels.

TR

Thank you much for the responses. I took it for granted that criminal activity, shakedowns, and corruption would be expected; but wasn't sure about current terrorism threat levels there or internal issues that could go collateral. I will check out the DOS site; already visited the Factbook site.

Richard
07-08-2010, 17:01
You can go here and read the newspapers.

http://www.world-newspapers.com/mali.html

USAID is very active in Mali - they should have a desk officer for the region in DC and also be able to provide direct embassy contacts for follow-up information.

http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/countries/mali/

The AmEmbassy in Mali has a web-site which can be of help, too.

http://mali.usembassy.gov/index.html

Good luck.

Richard :munchin

Big Money
07-08-2010, 19:10
You can go here and read the newspapers.

http://www.world-newspapers.com/mali.html

USAID is very active in Mali - they should have a desk officer for the region in DC and also be able to provide direct embassy contacts for follow-up information.

http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/countries/mali/

The AmEmbassy in Mali has a web-site which can be of help, too.

http://mali.usembassy.gov/index.html

Good luck.

Richard :munchin

Thanks for the response Richard. I personally wouldn't consider the newspapers a reliable source of useful information, although I had planned on using the other sources should I get picked up for this detail. What I was hoping for, within the constraints of OPSEC, was for personal information and insights from any of my brothers here who may have had recent experiences in that AO. My initial contact (earlier today) was from Washington- while it is not that I don't trust the folks in DC, since they are asking me to help them I would suspect that the quality of information they might provide would not be comprable to what I might learn here.

Pete
07-08-2010, 19:53
..... I personally wouldn't consider the newspapers a reliable source of useful information.......

You would be amazed at how you can "get a feel" for an area by reading a local newspaper and viewing a good city map and district map- even for just a couple of weeks before a trip.

Skip the world news - focus on the national and city news - read the letters to the editor.

And while there continue to read the local paper and catch the local news if you can.

You might find youself a couple of days ahead of the official US reports.

Big Money
07-08-2010, 20:05
Well, nobody has come on thus far and flat out said "screw that dude- whatever they're paying you, it ain't worth it"- guess that's positive. Hoping to catch a moment to talk with the person who sent me the message tomorrow...I suspect that after speaking with her and learning more about the project I'll know if this is even something I'm well suited for.

Sten
07-08-2010, 20:32
There is 152 Peace Corps volunteers there. You will be fine.

http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=learn.wherepc.africa.mali

lindy
07-08-2010, 21:11
Thank you much for the responses. I took it for granted that criminal activity, shakedowns, and corruption would be expected; but wasn't sure about current terrorism threat levels there or internal issues that could go collateral. I will check out the DOS site; already visited the Factbook site.

Expect those things at unexpected levels. It's pretty "sporty" over there. No kidding, just the other day a USG coworker was looking for a TDY that offered "adventure" (has already been to the warzones). I immediately suggested Mali.

I would highly suggest reading State's travel warning. Richard gave good links: on the US Emb web, go to the Warden msgs
(http://mali.usembassy.gov/warden_messages.html) and note the repeated use of the word "kidnapping". Having said that, I have a very good friend who's posted there in Bamako with his wife and 3 young kids.

I've been advised to avoid the northern regions...but it's desert up there (no trees). :D I can get you some "ground truth" first thing next week.

Big Money
07-08-2010, 21:42
Expect those things at unexpected levels. It's pretty "sporty" over there. No kidding, just the other day a USG coworker was looking for a TDY that offered "adventure" (has already been to the warzones). I immediately suggested Mali.

I would highly suggest reading State's travel warning. Richard gave good links: on the US Emb web, go to the Warden msgs
(http://mali.usembassy.gov/warden_messages.html) and note the repeated use of the word "kidnapping". Having said that, I have a very good friend who's posted there in Bamako with his wife and 3 young kids.

I've been advised to avoid the northern regions...but it's desert up there (no trees). :D I can get you some "ground truth" first thing next week.

Thank you much. Adventure beyond experiencing something new and different is NOT what I'm seeking. Looking for opportunities that will 1) get me out of my current workplace; 2) advance my career; and 3) bring in extra $$$ where possible. I'm willing to use my former career experiences to help me push the limits beyond the typcial non-military fed employee, but on the other hand, I'm not willing to put myself into an overly hazardous environment with my hands tied.

neecheepure
07-09-2010, 09:38
Big Money- PM inbound

Big Money
07-09-2010, 23:53
Many thanks to all who have provided information and assistance thus far. Current status is that I had a phone conversation/interview with a woman from our international programs office. Kinda threw me for a loop when she asked if I would mind continuing the conversation in French for a few minutes...tried to explain, in my best residual French, that I haven't tried to use that for nearly 15 years, but I did manage to struggle along for the next few minutes. I guess it was more about vetting than proficiency, just to be sure I wasn't totally bullshitting, because she told me aftwards that I did just fine. It was also pretty comical to see all the people in the office stop what they were doing and look over their desks trying to figure out what the hell kind of phone conversation I was having. I guess Forest Service employees in Minnesota aren't used to eavesdropping on conversations in French.

Should learn in the next week or two if I am selected for this detail; not sure at this point what my anwer might be if I have to make that decision. Thanks again for all your help and any additional assitance anyone might still provide.

BTW- since I'm here: vetting...can anyone help square me away please. My circle of knowledge was pretty much limited to Aco 2/3, '93-96, and a few 2nd Bn staff from '97. Many thanks.

Bettendorf
07-11-2010, 15:52
Mali 2007 here. Be very carefully. Lot's of people there will want to keep yuou from returning stateside with any of your money. I've worked with their Military though and most of them will try and keep their noses clean but even then, not many can be 100 percent trustworthy. You can throwaway your watch and start learning what "African-time" is. If you have any pointed questions, ask away.

Big Money
07-11-2010, 20:25
Mali 2007 here. Be very carefully. Lot's of people there will want to keep yuou from returning stateside with any of your money. I've worked with their Military though and most of them will try and keep their noses clean but even then, not many can be 100 percent trustworthy. You can throwaway your watch and start learning what "African-time" is. If you have any pointed questions, ask away.


Not many worries about the money, I don't personally have much to start with- I will be TDY with most, if not all, expenses already covered...pretty much, the only $$ I would have with me in-country would be Uncle Sugar's. The people I would be working with or otherwise interacting with would be local guides who have already been screened to some extent and pre-selected villagers. Presumably, I won't have any problems with our NGO partners who will be setting up the travel, lodging, meals, etc. as our project would be a follow-on to several others that have already taken place.

mark46th
07-12-2010, 15:16
I worked for a man from Mali. He had an MBA from Columbia University. Very nice guy, very bright. BUT- He believed with all his heart and soul that the CIA had made the AIDS virus in a lab and released it in Africa to kill all the Africans. The only reason I related this story is to remind you that even though you probably will be dealing with intelligent, educated individuals, they were raised in a culture with a different mind-set and priorities. Be aware that what you consider the "Right Thing to Do" may not be relevant to your counterpart's beliefs...

Stras
07-12-2010, 15:25
I worked for a man from Mali. He had an MBA from Columbia University. Very nice guy, very bright. BUT- He believed with all his heart and soul that the CIA had made the AIDS virus in a lab and released it in Africa to kill all the Africans. The only reason I related this story is to remind you that even though you probably will be dealing with intelligent, educated individuals, they were raised in a culture with a different mind-set and priorities. Be aware that what you consider the "Right Thing to Do" may not be relevant to your counterpart's beliefs...

And the chopping off of your head will please the gods.

Watch your back!!!

Big Money
07-12-2010, 17:01
I worked for a man from Mali. He had an MBA from Columbia University. Very nice guy, very bright. BUT- He believed with all his heart and soul that the CIA had made the AIDS virus in a lab and released it in Africa to kill all the Africans. The only reason I related this story is to remind you that even though you probably will be dealing with intelligent, educated individuals, they were raised in a culture with a different mind-set and priorities. Be aware that what you consider the "Right Thing to Do" may not be relevant to your counterpart's beliefs...

Since leaving the military, I have worked for the Census Bureau (briefly), the National Park Service, and currently the US Forest Service. Day in and day out, I am reminded that everyone believes what they wanna believe, and for many there is nothing you can say or do that will convince them that there is not an evil agenda behind what you are doing. Best bet I've found is to build that one on one rapport and convince them that you are the "exception"; and discreetly hide a can o' whoopass in your offside hand just in case.

Big Money
07-23-2010, 08:48
As a follow up to close this thread out, I got word this morning that I did not get selected for the detail. My thanks for the information and assitance provided. Take care, be safe, continue doing great and wonderful things.

BTAR

Sonic03svtCobra
07-31-2010, 19:02
have been there recently,
2nd poorest country in africa people are nicer in the smaller towns compared to Bamako which is the capital, country is overrun with corruption, only to classes of people, the rich and the poor. and there is a presence of Al-Qaeda
but most of it is north of the Niger river, mostly kidnap for ransom. Oh and forget about any normal driving standard, everyone drives like a nut.

Big Money
08-04-2010, 09:17
Strange how things work out. About an hour after I got the phone message that I wasn't selected for the detail, I started seeing the news bits about the raid in the northern portion of the country. I suppose I should probably be grateful that some other unarmed American fed employee was selected for the project.

Could be that other opportunities come along in the future- thanks again to everyone who helped and provided input.

Prayers out to Captain Holbrook and SSG Warren, their family, their friends, and their brothers. RIP warrriors.

lindy
08-25-2010, 18:20
I suppose I should probably be grateful that some other unarmed American fed employee was selected for the project.

Splendid. At least I'll get to have some "cool" dreams at USG expense.

Signed,

The Unarmed Employee :cool:

Note: I was "selected" for another job over there and wasn't competing for BM's spot.

lindy
10-16-2010, 10:00
I got back from a short trip over to Mali. I was "confined" to Bamako so if anyone is heading over soon, feel free to PM.

lindy
02-21-2011, 19:14
So much for the religion of peace. Sounds like a midnight madness sale at Wal-Mart.

From the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12532724?print=true):

21 February 2011 Last updated at 19:06 ET

Mali stampede in Bamako 'kills dozens'


At least 30 people have been killed in a stampede at a stadium in the Malian capital of Bamako, officials say.

Seventy others were injured in the incident, which occurred at the end of a sermon given by imam Osman Madani Haidara.

The stampede happened at the Modibo Keita Stadium, which seats 25,000.

The crowd reportedly wanted to be blessed by the imam after the speech, made on the festival of Maouloud, the Prophet Muhammad's birthday.

Most of the dead were crushed against metal fencing as they waited, Mali's minister of interior security and civil protection said.

Relatives gathered at the Gabriel Toure Hospital, trying to find out information about the dead and wounded.

"I've already had it confirmed that my aunt died," Sidiki Coulibaly told the Associated Press news agency.

"We are now trying to find out what happened to her daughter. She's just 10 years old. They go to this event together every year."