In November 2002, the State Department announced that officials from its Office of Counterterrorism had visited Mali and other West African countries to brief governments on the Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), which was “designed to protect borders . . . combat terrorism, and enhance regional cooperation and stability.”

Despite those big goals, State funded PSI with only $7.75 million, the first $6.65 million coming in 2004. With that money, U.S. European Command (EUCOM) sent U.S. Special Forces training units to work with the Mali military. The fear was that Islamic fighters driven from Afghanistan would settle in northern Mali. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey B. Kohler, then head of planning at EUCOM, said, “We’re helping to teach them [the Malian military] how to control this area themselves so they can keep it from being used by terrorists.”…

Even coup leader Capt. Amadou Sanogo represents something of a U.S. failure. He had participated in the Pentagon’s International Military Education and Training programs, with basic training at Fort Benning, Ga.; English-language training at Lackland Air Force Base, Tex.; an intelligence course at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; and study at Quantico, Va., with the Marine Corps.