Events are moving fast in Mali. Here is my brief summary, in roughly chronological order.
First, The Conflict in Mali is an interactive map from the Wall Street Journal. It has a very useful map, another tab with a list & background of the key players, and a timeline. Good resource to check. Locating the cities helps to understand the context.
I’ve been scratching my head about the French requests for heavy transport and in-flight refueling assistance from the U.S. Looks to this simple observer like they cannot project a force of 2,500 troops. It is a good start to have ability to lift the troops into a hotspot. That is only the start.
Just making a totally wild guess, the food, fuel, water, and parts needed to sustain such a force for one day probably weights more than the troops on the ground. And that is without ammo, explosives, jet fuel, and bombs. Further, 2,500 is not a particularly large force.