U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS - A little over a month after leaving Toulon, the Charles de Gaulle carrier strike group is now participating in maintaining security operations with allied forces, including Saudi Arabia. The Charles de Gaulle carrier strike group is officially engaged in Operation Shamal in Iraq.
The purpose of the deployment is to position a strike group in the areas of strategic interest for France, such as the Arabian Gulf. Sailors understood the mission when the ship departed its homeport of Toulon. They are trained to respond to the crisis in the Middle East and the needs of the coalition fighting against the terrorist group Daesh, the term commonly used to refer to the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. Recently, the French carrier strike group received the order to strengthen French components already deployed to the area to support Operation Shamal.
Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, spoke to sailors of Task Force 473 during a visit aboard the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.
"You join in the Shamal operation, nearly a thousand French soldiers. It is a delicate task that awaits you. It is essential. It is also exciting. I know I can count on your experience to operate in a complex environment with a rate of sustained air operations."
He also stated that the strike group would integrate with Combined Task Force 50, led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, providing a unique opportunity for the French strike group to participate in Operation Inherent Resolve led by the United States.
This operational commitment in Iraq marks the determination of France to contribute to the fight against Daesh. France is the only other country to integrate a carrier strike group alongside the United States in the operation against Daesh.
The minister of defense emphasized: "Deploying the French carrier strike group is never trivial. This is a strong military effort that reinforces the determination of France to overcome the barbarism Daesh represents."
Past operations, such as the 2011 Operation Harmattan in Libya, prepared France well for this kind of mission, the defense minister added. The crew of Charles de Gaulle, its air wing, the air defense frigate Chevalier Paul, the tanker Meuse and the anti-submarine frigate HMS Kent of the UK, have operated alongside their American counterparts consistently over the past few weeks in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
(Translated by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Danielle Brandt)