French commitment to counter terrorism and to the Coalition / Historical perspective
France’s commitment to the fight against terrorism has been strong and resolute since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
The French Liaison Team to HQ USCENTCOM was established on October 10th, 2001 to coordinate all matters related to the French contribution to the Coalition.
On October 18th, 2001, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1378 was adopted and French forces were immediately sent into Afghanistan. Beginning on October 21st, French air to ground attack and reconnaissance aircrafts, and air tankers contributed to the air campaign. French troops were deployed on the ground as early as December 2nd, 2001, securing Mazar-e-Sharif. The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and her Battle Group (CVBG) operated in the Indian Ocean as soon as December 2001 launching air strikes on Taleban positions in Afghanistan.
The ‘Air’ component was reinforced at the beginning of 2002 by French Air Force transport planes and fighters. Indeed, France was the first country, with the United States, to fly bombing missions over Afghanistan in direct support of American and Coalition ground troops. Since then, several tours have been completed by both Air Force and Navy air assets in support of the Coalition.
From 2001 to 2006, French Special Operations Forces (SOF) troops fought against the remnants of the Taliban by conducting armed reconnaissance in the South of Afghanistan. When a NATO Command was established in Afghanistan, French Forces were put under ISAF control. French Lieutenant General PY was the ISAF Commander in 2004.
1/ ISAF/OEF French contribution
About 4000 French Militaries are currently deployed in Afghanistan, Tajikistan (Dushanbe), UAE (Al Dafra), Qatar (Al Udeid) and the Indian Ocean, either in ISAF or OEF Operations.
3900 are on the Afghan territory (mainly embedded in Task Force Lafayette committed in Kapisa/Surobi area) and 100 in the Maritime Component (Coalition Maritime Force).
Specific emphasis is put on the training of the Afghan National Army (ANA), with 550 French soldiers in charge of Afghan Officers’ Basic Training (Operation Epidote) and Afghan Special Forces Basic Courses (Afghan Commando School), but also on mentoring, with teams embedded in Afghan Units (6 OMLT, Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team). In addition, 160 French “gendarmes” are embedded in Police OMLT (5 POMLT), and in courses in Mahmud-e-raqi school and Maydan center in Wardak (Afghan National Police – National Training Center – ANP-NTC). France has chosen not to set up a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).
Since 2001, 72 French soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan (65 under ISAF, 7 under OEF).
A) Land forces (Army)
a/ French Task Force Lafayette
Since August 2010, French Forces have been put under the US-led Regional Command East (RC-E) located at Bagram, and has been committed in Kapisa Province and Surobi district (from Kaboul province).
The TFLF is commanded by Brigadier General HOGARD since October 2010. Liaison officers are embedded in the RC-E HQ, currently manned by the 101e Airborne Division (CJTF 101).
The TF area of responsibility (AOR) spreads on 3200 square kilometers (1% of territory) and comprises 450 000 inhabitants (2% of the population).
The TF comprises the following major equipment :
- Wheeled Armored Personal Carriers - VAB (Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé);
B) Air Support
Since October 2001, France provides Air Support to OEF and to ISAF Operations. This support includes Close Air Support (CAS), Reconnaissance, Transport, and In-Flight Refueling. 450 French personnel are involved in Air Support. French aircrafts operate from Kandahar and Bagram (Afghanistan), Dushanbe (Tajikistan) and Al Dhafra (UAE).
The 6 x Combat Aircraft that were initially operating from Dushanbe (Tajikistan) were deployed in September/October 2007 to Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan. Mirage F1CR, Mirage 2000D and Rafale aircraft are now rotating on a regular basis. 190 French Militaries are stationed in Kandahar Airfield.
In addition, two UAV (HARFANG) have been successfully operated from Bagram since 2009. These UAV are providing ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) missions in support of ISAF operations.
2 x C160 ‘Transall’ (or C-130 Hercules) transport aircrafts are operating from Dushanbe (Tajikistan) for tactical airlift in the Theater of Operations. They contribute to the mobility of Coalition Forces and conduct Humanitarian Operations. 130 French Militaries are stationed in Dushanbe.
1 x C135F (air tanker) based in Al Dhafra (UAE) contribute to the refueling of all Coalition aircrafts on operation over Afghanistan.
C) Combined Maritime Forces
The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) is a multi-national naval partnership, which exists to promote security, stability and prosperity across 2.5 million square miles of international waters in the Middle East, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
CMF’s main focus areas are defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation, and promoting a safe maritime environment.
It is comprised of three principle task forces: CTF-150 (maritime security and counter-terrorism), CTF-151 (counter piracy) and CTF-152 (Arabian Gulf security and cooperation).
Two French Ships are permanently operating within CMF. Since its creation, after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks, France has been five times in command of CTF 150 conducting a sustained and permanent involvement against terrorism. Rear-Admiral KERIGNARD is currently assuming CTF-150 command since April 4th 2011.
2/ Training missions: Operation Epidote
Since February 2003, “Operation Epidote” has been training Afghan Officers.
Approximately 130-strong, this detachment is conducting:
French Detachment, embedded into the Coalition in USCENTCOM Tampa
Since august 2010, the French Detachment in Tampa is commanded by Rear-Admiral Patrick MARTIN, assisted by one assistant and 2 Liaison Officers: one from Army (Land forces and Intelligence advisor) and one from Air Force (Air Force and Navy advisor).