The Chief of Staff of the Armies, General François Lecointre, is due to review the troops, Wednesday, July 14, alongside the President, Emmanuel Macron. This will be his last parade before he leaves active service, after four years at the head of the armed forces. He will bid farewell to arms on July 21, before General Thierry Burkhard succeeds him. For his last interview before his departure, he details in particular the reorganization plan of Operation “Barkhane” in the Sahel.
The Head of State specified, on July 9, the reorganization of Operation “Barkhane” and the objectives of troop withdrawal. In general, with less, we do less. However, on the ground, we can see that the Sahelian armies currently need more. How to solve this equation?
To solve this equation, we must ensure that France is less alone to do the same thing, if not more. First of all, there is the desire to replace a mass of French maneuvers by a European force and, if possible, by other African partners. This is the meaning of the Takuba task force, whose objective is to accompany the Malian army in combat.
The goal is thus to withdraw the French regiments which acted directly in contact with the enemy, while maintaining support in intelligence and in the air, with armed drones and fighter planes, guided by partner forces on the ground. The other challenge is to succeed in preventing any emergence of the establishment of a territorial caliphate in the three-border area. [à cheval entre Niger, Burkina Faso et Mali], while being in a position to establish a second line of defense further south, to deal with the spread of jihadist armed groups. And this, by going to offer cooperation and strengthened military partnerships to all the States which are threatened in the short term, in particular the States of the Gulf of Guinea.
In this context, will the special forces be more involved?
Special forces will be called upon in two ways. First, through the Takuba task force, which is essentially made up of European special forces. Support in combat exposes more to risk. This is work that we have already done in Afghanistan and that we want to do again. But since special forces are not endlessly expandable battalions, at some point you will have to consider having this work done by conventional forces. We are not there today, but we must observe what the British or the Americans are doing with intermediate forces, for example with the rangers.
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