This article was originally published on BreakingDefense.com – copyright 2013 Breaking Media, Inc.
Murielle Delaporte, a respected French military analyst, was embedded with French forces in Mali for 10 days in late April and offers this early look at lessons learned by France, and by her allies.
French forces appear to have succeeded in Mali. They blunted the mad progress of Islamist extremist forces during Operation Serval and drove them back to the northern mountains – where some of whom blew themselves up rather than surrender when faced with defeat.
The first phase of Operation Serval, as the French incursion into Mali was known, was a genuine military success. Maybe, as one former French Foreign Legion officer observed, Serval stands as one of the few French military victories since the Cold War.
During three months of fighting France lost six soldiers and suffered 200 wounded, while forces from neighboring Chad — who reportedly fought with verve and effectiveness — lost more.
This photo taken March 8, 2013 by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French soldiers patrolling in the Mettatai region in northern Mali.
France’s Presidential office on Saturday March 23 2013 said that DNA testing has shown that Al-Qaida-linked North African warlord Abou Zeid was killed in combat with French troops in Mali in February. Chad’s President had claimed earlier that his troops had killed Zeid.
(AP Photo/Arnaud Roine/ECPAD)
I predict that we’re going to be seeing a lot more in the news about Western military, especially counter-insurgency, operations in Africa in the months ahead – as this continent appears most definitely to be the next front in the ongoing struggle against global Islamist extremism and terrorism.
The 17th Parachute Engineer Regiment jumped into Timbuktu on 29 January 2013.
At the moment of course, the conflict that everyone is watching is the French intervention in Mali. Following the UN Security Council Resolution 2085 of 20 December 2012, the aim of the operation is to stop and ultimately defeat an aggressive Islamic militant rebellion in the north of Mali, which had begun a push into the center of Mali. The operation is named after the medium-sized African wild cat species Serval.
We featured this modern-day “They don’t like it up ’em!” Corporal Jones on our Facebook page a few days ago, now here’s the full story from the Ministry of Defence, Defence News…
A soldier who led a bayonet charge over 80 metres of open ground through enemy fire has been awarded the Military Cross.
Corporal Sean Jones, 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.
(Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012)
The gallant tactical move by Corporal Sean Jones of 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1 PWRR) reversed a potentially dire situation when his patrol came under attack in a carefully planned ambush in October last year.
Members of No 5 RAF Force Protection Wing, working alongside the US Marine Corps (USMC), have spoken about quickly regaining control of Camp Bastion Airfield following an insurgent attack on Friday 14 September, killing 14 and capturing one of the enemy.
Fifteen heavily-armed insurgents dressed in US Army uniforms and armed with PKM general purpose machine guns, AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades broke through perimeter defences and initially targeted tower guards with heavy fire – killing two US Marines.
Subsequently they attacked the USMC flight line, damaging infrastructure and AV-8B Harrier jump jets. The RAF Force Protection Wing based at Camp Bastion was quick to react, deploying forces throughout the camp, with 51 Squadron RAF Regiment pushing out onto the airfield and the RAF Police from the Bastion Security Squadron maintaining security around key installations throughout the camp.
Gunners from the RAF Regiment on patrol around Camp Bastion (stock image).
Picture: Corporal Andy Benson RAF, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012
The RAF Regiment gunners’ aim was to reclaim control of the airfield. Supported by a number of different direct fire weapons, and co-ordinating the assault with members of 2/10 Battalion US Marine Corps, they moved methodically across the airfield engaging in various fire fights as they dealt with pockets of resistance over a period of some four hours.
Personnel from No 5 RAF Force Protection Wing patrol in a new Foxhound armoured vehicle at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan (stock image). Picture: Corporal Laura Bibby RAF, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012