France to create new Africa outposts to better fight terrorism

From the Edmonton Journal

France will broaden its military presence in Africa’s turbulent Sahel region with specialized new outposts to better fight the terror threat from extremist groups such as al-Qaida, the defence minister said Tuesday.

Short duration raiding, limited resources, light footprint

mmmm

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Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
January 22, 2014 9:59 pm

From what i’m reading from the French official military sites & the press, i think they are trying to set up more training sites, & working politically behind scenes to try & make the local African diplomatic & military alliance & intervention groups stronger. I suspect that the States would rather keep their distance from Africa, & prefer giving the French financial, & logistical support, & more covertly intel & some special forces “advisors”, as the Frogs sometimes better recieved in their former colonies or protectorates, including the former Belgian spheres of influence. I have severe doubts from what i read the French want to be bogged down being an international policing/peacekeeping force in Africa, any more than the US or UK. I may be wrongly reading between the lines,but suspect there is EU & US support for pushing the French to the fore in Africa. French forces like the rest of the world’s armed forces are starting to feel the bite of budget cuts & drawdown, from overseas intervention, although on surface, seems less brutal than the UK & US cuts, & budget slashing. The rumblings are there from French brass, & rank & file, but being suppressed, & not given the same air time or column inches (oops cms), as elsewhere.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 22, 2014 10:03 pm

Sounds more like a French version of Monogram than new Foreign Legion Forts.

Phil
January 22, 2014 10:03 pm

light footprint

There’s one to add to the SDSR 2015 lexicon.

Synonym: shoe-string

Mark
Mark
January 22, 2014 10:38 pm

Fwd engagement is the term that springs to mind

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
January 22, 2014 10:46 pm

Sounds like the kind of nonsense I have seen Roundly condemned in these parts often before! :D

Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
January 22, 2014 10:59 pm

They give the local yokels a bit of basic training, some old kit, & hope they keep insurgents occupied enough so they don’t have to put too many feet on ground for combat units. Handy for training the fly boys though. The ancient Mirage F-ICRs due for retirement, are already overrunning their withdrawl date, & the Armée de l’Air had several live firing exercises with what are supposed to be recon squadrons, with several forms of air to ground ordnance, they’ve never used before. These couple of squadrons being deployed to African bases, & suspect it’s a twofer, to save money & resources, by putting recon a/c into mix as dual role recon & strike assets.

Jackstaff
Jackstaff
January 22, 2014 11:07 pm

JBT,

Apologies, mate — fat thumbs on the iPhone gave you a cuppa when I meant to buy you a pint. Yes. And of course this is what “upstream engagement” or whatever it’s renamed in the nex round of Bullshit Scrabble should really look like. Yes, Boss, it is possible — the French have done it more often than most, the UK has managed in spite of itself on occasion (Dhofar twice, anyone?) and, hell, even the Yanks on rare occasion! (The Congo in the 60s and the Philippines after 9/11 come to mind.) There are very specific reasons that various people (both pro and con) have gone over why Helmand didn’t go that way. It’s not always a predictor. Look how far the frogged have drawn down in Mali since the height of Op Serval. It points to a crucial difference in elite/management culture. The French ones (Enarchs, senior officers, cloak and dagger types — the bedrock of their own “permagov”) see themselves truly as an elite and don’t give a damn what others think. If even De Gaulle could u-turn on Algeria that’s an indicator. Closer to home we’re beset by “management culture”, a bunch of pole-climbers scrabbling against each other, terrified for the most part that if anything begins or, especially, ends during their tenure they’ll be subject to postmortem and miss out on the next sinecure up the line. Rather less potentially democratic on their side but operationally a breath of fresh air.

Jackstaff
Jackstaff
January 22, 2014 11:11 pm

@Paul,

Bugger, must stop trying to “like”– I’ve done it again. You’re quite right about the MO and it seems often to work.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 22, 2014 11:20 pm

@JS

As I said it is a french Monogram, we do an awful lot we choose not to trumpet.

Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
January 22, 2014 11:20 pm

http://www.defense.gouv.fr/air/mediatheque/carnet-de-vol/les-campagnes-de-tir-air-sol Link to French DoD site outlining air to ground equipment, & recent training, including near end of article the F1-CR squadrons kitting up for live firing exercises. In the just over 2 years i’ve been here first time these recon squadrons have done anything but dedicated recon missions, including towards end of last year, joint training with Russian & eastern European air forces over the Baltic, including air policing over the Baltic, during the NATO rotational, detachments, for Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania. Strong suspcion they’re being prepared for conversion to strike role. Were due to be replaced with the recon dedicated versions of the Rafale by end of last year & beginning of this, but still carrying out intensive air ground training & further deployments. As said previously, think France doing it all on a shoestring, & as much for publicity, building up closer relations with many African nations, possibly for arms sales too. Me a cynic & suspect my new hosts have several ulterior motives other than philantrophy, humanitarian concern, & world peace?! Nobody else bought the Rafale yet, plenty of smaller transports, cheaper tanker, maritime patrol a/c, armoured cars, cheapish FREMMs to flog, etc. Remember the Chinese have high profile in most of Africa. A bit of military assistance, some military conferences, over a few buckets of French plonk, & undermine the Chinese salesforce.

Derek
Derek
January 23, 2014 12:14 am

Another interesting piece of Britain’s military decline has leaked out: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/22/multicultural-britain-foreign-conflict-mod

Looking forward to Thursday.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 23, 2014 1:35 am

Whilst there is little appetite for further ground wars at present, I also detect a whiff of Guardianista wishful thinking in this report…as I recall they were the one newspaper of record certain that we would not give the Argentine a caning in 1982…whist simultaneously dancing on the grave of Ray Honeyford, the Bradford Headteacher who lost his job because he pointed out the shortcomings of multi-culturalism some thirty years before his rather moderate views became the received wisdom of the Labour Front Bench…

I rather fancy their views on many matters reflect what they would like the GBP to think, not what we actually do…

GNB

Nicky
Nicky
January 23, 2014 1:43 am

Sounds like the French Foreign Legion is going to have an Outpost their. Looks like they are going back to the French FORT days.

H_K
H_K
January 23, 2014 3:03 am

Very misleading article… the term “outposts” is dead wrong.

The French are actually downsizing their historical outposts in places like Djibouti and Gabon. Turns out that these outposts sucked up large numbers of prepositioned troops, often in the wrong places. Instead, the focus will be on maintaining “launching off points”. This means building up infrastructure for contingency operations. Stuff like working runways, prefab facilities for rapid aircraft detachments, possibly also some old equipment prepositioned in storage. Meanwhile a good chunk of the prepositioned troops will be sent home, to return only when needed… likely aboard RAF and USAF C-17s!

The beauty of these launching off points (aside from the fact that they’ll please the engineering-minded among TD readers) is that they don’t even have to be used by the French. Once in place they can support African troops, even those pesky European allies!

All in all, TD has got it right. Strategic raiding and light footprint indeed.

CheshireCat
CheshireCat
January 23, 2014 8:30 am

Couldn’t agree with you more GNB, I think that the Guardian article has a grain of truth in it that has then been stretched as thinly as possible to suit the Guardian’s over-riding liberal, non-interventionist mindset.

Like all newspapers you have to read the Guardian through a very thick filter to get to the facts through it’s editorial agenda.

Still, atleast it’s more accurate than the Telegraph!!

martin
Editor
January 23, 2014 3:50 pm

I don’t think multiculturalism has bugger all to do with it more like a dose of common sense. We can’t go of fighting other peoples wars for them any more. Its just not worth it. On rare occasions we can lend support to existing forces like Sierra Leone or Mali to head off future problems. In other’s we may even consider dropping bombs from 40,000 ft as with Libya but under no circumstances should we ever consider large scale enduring operations in other peoples countries.

One has to ask if this is the case do we need 82,000 regulars plus 7,000 Royal Marines and an RAF regiment still or could we meet the required capabilities with less. Given our budgetary squeeze and shrinking capability spectrum could the money be spent better else where? A further cut of 20,000 could free up around another 2 billion a year which could be quite transformative in used properly.

Peter Elliott
January 23, 2014 4:07 pm

Its the skeleton batallions and addtional Brigade HQs in the Adaptable force which are looking most vulnerable to me right now.

But it would mean explicilty moving away from a capability to put a brigade somewhere far away for 10 years at a time using a 5:1 ratio.

I could probably live with that.

Phil
January 23, 2014 5:05 pm

Strategic raiding and light footprint indeed.

Err having an outpost is the precise opposite of raiding let alone that gob-bollocks term “strategic raiding”.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 23, 2014 5:14 pm

I agree Phil,

We’ve had the ability to do strategic raiding for decades with 3 Cdo and 5 Airborne/16 AAB not forgetting the short lived 24 Airmobile Bde. In fact wasn’t GW 1 a strategic raid, in clobber and out.

Strategic raiding in British terms means more light units = cheap and not properly equipped truck mounted troops.

Phil
January 23, 2014 5:19 pm

Gulf War a strategic raid? Come off it! Since when has 500,000 men in three corps and 12-13 divisional equivalents been considered a raid? Throw in 1,700 combat aircraft and 6 CVBGs for effect. If that’s a raid it makes Afghanistan look like a standing patrol.

There’s no such thing as a strategic raid. There’s raids. And there’s not raids.

Jackstaff
Jackstaff
January 23, 2014 5:20 pm

Elliot,

This. And you shall have TD Memorial Biccies, hand over fist. What we are now made to call “upstream engagement” has been the French speciality “outré-mer” for decades and, as @H_K pointed out above not only are they fairly good at it, they have learned from past errors and begun to refine their methods further. The lessons of which are that the Adaptible Force model, when applied to those sort of circumstances (and in every way ranging from organization to task orientation — who does what jobs — to the narrowness of kit) is exactly the hot mess it seems to be. (Thanks also to @Paul and @H_K again upthread for the clear and detailed summing-up of what and how the French are finagling.)

Of course, and it’s a little OT but not too far, that’s not what the Adaptable Force is for, any more than the similar but failed (last June) effort to keep on war-surplus light infantry brigades as “foreign training units” in the US Army was.

I’ve been over FF2020 many times now wrt the Army bit of something I’m trying to write (honest, TD!) about the coming SDSR. FF2020 did one-and-two-thirds good things. The unalloyed good was a high/lower split of intervention capabilities. The two-thirds was making and keeping a working core of heavy formations. Needs work but crucial and a good start (I’d define “work” as shuttering BATUS and standing up a fourth Regular armoured regiment, converting spare Warriors to mortar carriers and support for their own bns, a UOR to refit just the three mech bns and get the Mastiff family out of service.) But all of that was a kind of good-works payment for the Adaptible Force which is two things: heading off a decision like that made by all the colonies of settlement, that well-established Reserves are the natural force for domestic resilience in all but the most extreme cases; and the real core of it, an institutional coup to maintain the Infantry’s primacy within the service. All those light bns aren’t about cap badges per se. They’re about colonelcies. And the flag positions after– it’s how a branch with about thirty percent of the service’s personnel can hold on to half or more of its flag level posts. So it gives power and a promotion track for officers all in one. (Also seen in stove piping the sappers and gunners to one “natural” brigadier ship each in the Force Troops rather than being organic to the fighting brigades where a clever ‘un of them might queue-jump like Peter Wall and Colonel Dave RA did.)
/rant over

It will be interesting to see how this counts towards “learning lessons from Johnny Foreigner” and whether those lessons are absorbed.

Phil
January 23, 2014 5:21 pm

Strategic raiding in British terms means more aircraft carriers, frigates and fighters

I made a NY Resolution not to be such an opinionated twat on here and now the subject of strategic raiding has reared it’s intellectually cretinous head again. So I may have to lie down.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 23, 2014 5:31 pm

Gulf War a strategic raid?

Yes in the sense that we did not occupy any territory after the conflict ( aside from the no fly zones which were set up for different reasons to the campaign ) we had an objective to remove the Iraqi armed forces from Kuwait.

We did just that and then promptly left, the size is irrelevant.

TD you are right strategic raiding is not a doctrine but an equipment grab!

Phil
January 23, 2014 5:40 pm

Yes in the sense that we did not occupy any territory after the conflict ( aside from the no fly zones which were set up for different reasons to the campaign ) we had an objective to remove the Iraqi armed forces from Kuwait.

To bring this quickly back to the land of common sense

RAID: a rapid surprise attack on an enemy by troops, aircraft, or other armed forces.

So no, in no measure was the invasion of Kuwait a raid. Especially since it was neither (a) a surprise nor (b) fleeting, since we stayed there for 20 years.

France won’t be conducting any strategic raids in Africa because France has been in Africa for a few hundred years and clearly desires to remain so for the next few hundred years. What France may do is launch proper raids from outposts or launch spoiling attacks from those outposts.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 23, 2014 5:50 pm

RAID: a rapid surprise attack on an enemy by troops, aircraft, or other armed forces.

Yes but this is in the terms of Strategic, relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them. Energy security.

As soon as the word strategic is added to the term raid its not just a case of the long range desert patrol raiding an airfield, that it why I believe its a flawed concept.

Jackstaff
Jackstaff
January 23, 2014 5:51 pm

,

You’re quite right about “strategic raiding”, it’s an awful term that gets in the way of a few valuable ideas in among the bullshit bingo. Raids can have a strategic effect (I think of Telemark in WWII, and also Entebbe springs to mind, which had institutional and geopolitical effects and knackered Idi Amin’s Air Force besides rescuing civilians. Longer ago and closer to where I now am geographically the seizure of Quebec and, decades later, the burning of Washington DC spring to mind.) But it is better to think in terms of raiding as a coherent part of strategy. “Home for tea and medals” is not strategy, not even a plan, it’s the kind of public relations itch modern politicians like to scratch. And look where it got Dubya and The Bliar in Messpot.

If we look at French reasoning in Mali, if not execution (more on that below), we can see an alternative. The collapse of central and military authority in Mali actually presented an opportunity and the Froggies saw it. Giddy with millenarian glee AQIM came out of their bolt holes and charged south to build a Caliphate in this dusty and unpleasant (but musically brilliant– truly, if you want to hear the roots of the blues and rock and roll but some Malian CDs) land.

So Paris sees that. Great. Now that they’re out from under cover it is possible to go in and kill large numbers of them. This helps break AQIM’s power, helps keep the “infection” from spreading to more populated and fertile places, revamps French popularity and street cred in the region, and reemphasises to regional governments that they’re going to need to watch their own backyards and perhaps French kit and advice (for a price) can help them stand up the capability.

Of course the irony here is one of speed. Thanks to their desire to keep “teeth” formations and the domestic arms industry that supplies them, France’s logistic enablers suck upon the bollocks of donkeys. And so they weren’t fast enough to destroy as much of AQIM in the field as they hoped. But they have continued the other measures without switching gears to a big “enduring operation” with loads of French boots and resources. They have, instead, pursued similar measures elsewhere in the Francophonie (ex. CAR.)
This is because these weren’t “strategic raids” where the decision to be macho and send troops was followed by magical thinking about how all the other pieces would fall in place without any seeming effort (oh, wotcher Iraq, where’ve you been?) instead the strategy was broad, ongoing, already being implemented in other ways, and it was seen that a sharp, sweeping application of force to specific goals in this specific place would further the strategy. Put simply, one thinks the raid will make strategy happen, the other uses “raiding” tactics to further strategic goals (among them, not hardening a democratic population against the use of force through its incompetent application.)

Call it a chevauchee rather than a raid if you like, that may in fact be more accurate and not just because of the language choice. But it’s a different animal and one of which I strongly approve when set against the alternative (which is to say both Iraq and Afghanistan began long ago as “strategic raids” rather than military strikes in aid of strategy, and inevitably broke down into long years of PC Plod in someone else’s mud.)

Phil
January 23, 2014 5:58 pm

@DN

I’m not quite sure if we both agree strategic raiding is a complete load of bollocks or not.

The term was coined by a particular organisation with a penchant for trying to sound incisive and innovative by making up new cool terms. They thereby stretch the meaning of a well worn and very old word in an incredulous and farcical manner.

You can call Operation Desert Storm a campaign. It had a start, a middle and an end with some messy bits left over which resulted in another campaign. You can conduct a campaign with the aim of achieving or being part of a plan to achieve energy security. One might even conduct a raid to destroy an enemy force that is in front of a power plant that if destroyed will plunge us into darkness. But what you don’t have is 500,000 men conducting a raid. They campaign. Thus we restore some common sense and ordinary meanings to ordinary words.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 23, 2014 6:11 pm

Yes we both agree its a load of bollocks, I will admit that my example was stretching things a bit. I also agree that the term has been hijacked and gets thrown around to sound decisive and politically safe.

Phil
January 23, 2014 6:21 pm

To be pedantic I don’t think the term has been hi-jacked.

The term is used in precisely the manner its inventors wanted it to be used. Which is why it annoys me so much because then people argue we should be organising our armed forces around a bankrupt concept designed to sell membership fees and get bookings for speeches.

I think and always have that getting into definitional arguments is often pointless which is why I fall back on what may seem to some to be the imprecise practice of imparting on words their accepted ordinary meaning. A raid is therefore a raid. Now a raid perhaps has “strategic effects” but I really can’t think of any raid other than two air raids that changed all that much. Raid effects might ripple outward but they are characterised by local decisiveness. To achieve strategic decision requires large mass and then you are just stretching the word raid into meaninglessness and then the whole concept melts away into nonsense as it should. You can have a “strategic raid” but it would really be a campaign and therefore require all the accoutrements of a campaign. But in a world of short defence resources any claim to have found the holy grail of strategic effect for little effort and kit is bound to gain some cretinous currency. But it remains a vacuous and bankrupt mental construction that shouldn’t be allowed to get traction.

If you want decisive effect on any scale it costs you. It costs you treasure, lives and time. If you want pin-point local decisiveness, then you can do something like Sierra Leone in 2000. The effect of that raid rippled outward and it was locally decisive, but it was not decisive in the overall context of the mission there. It contributed. But mission accomplished did not begin and end with it.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 23, 2014 6:32 pm

‘To be pedantic I don’t think the term has been hi-jacked’

We are not writing the legal documentation Phil, we are casually discussing the doctrine, colloquial meanings and dare say some generalisations are allowable :-)

Phil
January 23, 2014 6:36 pm

and dare say some generalisations are allowable

That’s how the Nazi’s started!

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 23, 2014 6:41 pm

That’s how the Nazi’s started!

God I miss them, they were so ruthlessly thorough ;-)

(And that’s a tongue in cheek, dark squaddie joke before TD gets requests to ban me!
)

Phil
January 23, 2014 6:48 pm

Stylish too. Except for having to carry your ressie around in a tin.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 23, 2014 6:51 pm

I always thought that we should have been issued one of those for our rat packs before boil in the bag was introduced, like a pringles tube for your babies heads :-)

Rocket Banana
January 23, 2014 7:04 pm

I don’t see anything wrong with a) the French idea, and b) the term “strategic raiding”.

We’ll follow suit when the next round of defence cuts hit :-(

Phil
January 23, 2014 7:34 pm

the term “strategic raiding”.

What’s wrong with it is that it is a very dangerous and misleading concept. It’s used car salesman bollocks. It’s dangerous because people have argued that it should determine structure. When you let a bankrupt and meaningless term guide your force structure you’ll be caught with your knickers down and several years and several tens of billions pounds worse off.

Rocket Banana
January 23, 2014 8:50 pm

Phil,

To me it simply means a raid that has a long-term (detrimental) effect on an enemy’s campaign. Nothing else.

If it implies a particular structure then fair enough. I don’t think it is intended to do that for the French. If anything it is a political rationale covering up a lack of need and/or enemy.

Phil
January 23, 2014 9:07 pm

To me it simply means a raid that has a long-term (detrimental) effect on an enemy’s campaign. Nothing else.

But long-term detrimental effect is an outcome – something that cannot be determined before it occurs . It is something to be recognised post-hoc.

So we’re back to a raid being on club in the caddy – one tool to impart effects. The idea that an entire theatre or even armed forces should be built around achieving one effect (which may or may not have long-term detrimental effect – and is in fact very unlikely to, or be decisive) makes it a poor concept. Very poor.

Phil
January 23, 2014 9:16 pm

But it is better to think in terms of raiding as a coherent part of strategy. “Home for tea and medals” is not strategy, not even a plan, it’s the kind of public relations itch modern politicians like to scratch. And look where it got Dubya and The Bliar in Messpot.

Completely agree.

There needs to be mass and persistence. The French are acknowledging this by breaking down their larger bases and it seems spreading them around a bit. Rather than strategic raiding they are doing the opposite and doing it properly. Smaller, lighter but more numerous bases will dominate far more of an area and generate far more mass and persistence at the local level and when combined can provide wider area effects. The cost is mobility which means you can’t conduct deep strikes or chevauchee’s. But then you just need to find a happy medium between size and laydown. You’d want at least 2 companies in a hostile area with ISTAR leaving 1x coy for local ground holding and 1x available for mobile operations.

Rocket Banana
January 23, 2014 9:23 pm

Phil,

But long-term detrimental effect is a strategic outcome. Not something you can completely plan for and not something that is determined by the individual “raid”.

The idea that an entire theatre or even armed forces should be built around achieving one effect…

Well. “Strategic Raiding” could be called “Guerrilla Warfare”. I just don’t think it is politically sensible to call it that, even though the basic premise is the same.

I think it is both France’s and Our Dilemma.

Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
January 23, 2014 9:24 pm

Anyone noticed the Yanks are looking to stick their noses in further, than just lending the Frogs & Africans transport, drones, & tanking facilities? ” US looks to build up Africa crisis response force” – http://www.stripes.com/news/us-looks-to-build-up-africa-crisis-response-force-1.263525 . The Americans again want to keep it all at a distance, that’s why they’re so happy to help the French & the dribble of European forces that are prepared to get involved, & push the African alliances into the fore after training & the better equipped & trained forces have done the hard hits & waved the big stick. Think the UK will continue the logistics support when they can spare the aircraft, & ships, & add a few “advisors” & trainers, but do little else but praise the “Resolute French actions”. Think the link to the Stars & Stripes article not clickable, so back to old cut, paste & search if interested.

Phil
January 23, 2014 9:38 pm

But long-term detrimental effect is a strategic outcome

Destroying a division is a long-term detrimental effect that takes about a year to put right. But if the enemy has 300 divisions it has no strategic effect.

Strategic effect requires everything a raid is not or does not have: persistence and mass.

A raid may have local mass but to have strategic mass you’re talking a campaign.

Building an armed forces or theatre around raiding and using it as an excuse to lighten defence resources is like filling your tank with a third as much petrol and believing you’ll get just as far with it if you choose the right route and use the accelerator at the optimum time.

H_K
H_K
January 23, 2014 9:52 pm

The French are acknowledging this by breaking down their larger bases and it seems spreading them around a bit. Rather than strategic raiding they are doing the opposite and doing it properly. Smaller, lighter but more numerous bases will dominate far more of an area and generate far more mass and persistence at the local level and when combined can provide wider area effects.

Again, no.

The French are NOT spreading their bases around. They are NOT looking to generate persistence at the local level. All the opposite: they are looking for ways to reduce their footprint, repatriate critical (and expensive) assets like troops, helicopters, fighter planes etc. Leaving behind an enlarged fixed infrastructure to support raids (strategic or not – clearly a loaded term on this forum!).

Whether this infrastructure is called “launching off points”, “entry points”, “support bases” doesn’t matter much… but semantically they are precisely the opposite of permanently manned “forts”, “outposts” etc.

Persistence at the local level will continue to be provided indirectly by enabling African allies through logistic and training support, as has already been the case for 15+ years. (The French subsidize a network of 15 specialized training programs across Western Africa, covering everything from Staff courses, demining, combat medics, engineers, peacekeeping, police work etc). And increasingly by nudging European allies to fill in French shoes as the French move on to the next crisis (as the Germans are about to do in Mali).

Phil
January 23, 2014 10:04 pm

Well I was mistaken then. Teach me to dip in and out of a subject.

If they can maintain density and local persistence using indigenous (can you still say that?) forces and then provide the mobile forces themselves for more complex operations then it is not a bad concept. It is nothing more than what is being done in Afghanistan. But the fly in the ointment will be reacting fast enough and getting those mobile troops into place before opportunities are missed. Once they’re on the ground they’re hot to trot, but until then they only have one oar.

They’re reducing costs but at an increase in risk. Heard that one somewhere before too…

Rocket Banana
January 23, 2014 10:05 pm

Phil,

Strategic effect requires everything a raid is not or does not have: persistence and mass.

I really don’t think that is strictly true. Both the IRA and Al-Qaeda have proved that over the years. It simply depends on what you are trying to achieve. It is still “strategic” and it still has “effect”.

Furthermore, I think we’re at cross purposes. You’re saying a “raid” does not have “persistence” (above). I accept that, but point out that a strategic plan to continually “raid” (i.e. strategic raiding or bombing) does. Perhaps this is one of those great examples of appalling English semantics.

Phil
January 23, 2014 10:14 pm

Both the IRA and Al-Qaeda have proved that over the years

You said it. “Over the years”.

but point out that a strategic plan to continually “raid” (i.e. strategic raiding or bombing) does

But its the cumulative effect that is important.

H_K
H_K
January 23, 2014 10:19 pm

, you weren’t totally off though.

Reality on the ground means that the French will still retain a large number of bases… Chad, Niger, Mali, RCA, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Senegal, Djibouti… that’s 8 bases at least! However these will be mostly just air, force protection, engineering and support detachments in the capital cities.

The infantry and cavalry companies that used to do the local persistence work outside of international airport perimeters will be repatriated… or more accurately shoved off to the next hotspot-du-jour.

Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
January 23, 2014 10:35 pm
Reply to  H_K

The French want minimal involvement, & ground assets – the odd squadron rotations of the Armée de l’Air they don’t seem to mind, as it’s good training & not much other uses for them at the moment. They were dependent through most of Operation Serval in Mali due to retirement of old kit & reequipping with new toys – tankers, A400Ms, etc, hence putting out the begging bowl for US, UK, Canadian, & other countries assistance with some logistics. They’re building up that capability where they need less aviation support now, but now the services are being volunteered by the likes of the States, & Scandanavian countries, rather than requested. Establishing a few strategic bases, i suspect for threat purposes, rather strength of forces deployed to them, is the aim, then replace with indigenous forces (sod it if not politically correct terminology). They need to train the locals, & weed out the supporters of the opposition, that wasn’t done too well in Afghanistan, & for that matter supposed allies in Pakistan, before pushing them into the front line, & then withdrawing most of their ground forces. France simply doesn’t have the numbers to do African policeman, & keep up this moving from one hot spot to another. Got a brother in law to be serving with Gendarmes at French Embassy Nigeria embassy, & apparently some special forces of more than France working in & out of there too. They’re all in there i varying numbers, as seems many countries think Africa next hot spot, where the domino effect could start. Most low key. Ever heard of US offering tech like armed drones to African countries before now? Remember Chinese also have large presence in Africa from one end to other, & also recently sent troops to region, as well as flotilla to join the anti piracy squadrons.

H_K
H_K
January 23, 2014 11:04 pm

@PR France simply doesn’t have the numbers to do African policeman, & keep up this moving from one hot spot to another.

Yes, and no. Initially the French were screaming bloody murder at the lack of Euro support in Mali and RCA. But now I think they’re starting to glimpse a cunning compromise… a way to make a virtue of necessity:

1) The French provide the boots-on-the-ground for the initial “entry”. Rapid-response, 6-12 months in, then out.
2) The allies, mostly to sidestep demands for combat troops, but partly also out of guilt, provide a good chunk of the airlift and long-term engagement (training missions etc). Over time this adds to some of the most expensive $$$.

Win-win for everyone all round. Especially for the cash strapped French. So they have an incentive to keep screaming for help. Problem is, much like the US in Afghanistan, they still own the baby if things go sideways.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 24, 2014 12:16 am

“Strategic Raiding” – Could I suggest we emulate our Imperial forbears and start to talk about Punitive Expeditions – which ranged from an afternoon’s work obliterating some dubious potentate’s palace to a full scale albeit short term invasion, providing valuable souvenirs for the walls of the Mess or the glass cases in the Smoking, Billiard or Gun Room…but which did not include a full scale effort to re-engineer somebody else’s social or political system…although the odd ruler might be removed in chains, and his acolytes given a vigorous thrashing.

GW1 clearly was such an expedition, although not in my view carried through to it’s proper conclusion (removal of Saddam Hussein, replacement by somebody more pliable, air protection extended to the Marsh Arabs as well as the Kurds whilst they sorted the future out between themselves). The first phase of the Afghan Campaign likewise, before some silly bugger moved on to votes for women and schools for girls…

By the same token, GW2 was more akin to the annexation of a new Colony or Imperial Protectorate…but without the relevant manpower, long-term planning or moral certainty…hence a result which is at best mixed, but because of the failure of any coherent application of political leadership and will…not the failure of our armed forces or indeed anybody else’s.

End of sermon.

GNB

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
January 24, 2014 11:28 am

lol, I’m always amused at the ability of concepts to arouse so much sound and fury, as people valiantly battle to redefine how tanks can manoeuvre on the head of a pin.

I think I even get a troll-like kick from rolling ‘that’ grenade into the room!

The SR that exists in the minds of the indignant is indeed ridiculous, however, it exists in that form only in their mind.

The big choice: what happens when we realised the mini-US sdr98 was bankrupted by lack of investment?

No longer could we have the ability to both:
1. sustain a short division indefinitely when configured for theatre wide low intensity suppression
2. keep the enablers to permit brigade level interventions at short notice configured for high intensity fighting in a localised area

So, we needed a debate, internally and publicly, about the future of Britain’s interest in interventionist foreign policy. so we needed a lexicon within which to discus this.

We had this debate, and a lot of people didn’t like the direction it was going, so they bitched and moaned, and tried to discredit the conversation.

In the end, we ended up with carriers and amphibs and transports, and kept the marine and para response groups. we paid for this with a 82,000 man army.

Good call.