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Opération Serval - Mali.

Another Algerian appointed as AQIM's head after Droukdel was KIA by French SF last June

 
A year after the helicopter collision which killed 13 French soldiers, an article on the impact of such a loss on a one parent family


alexandre2.jpg


Then Sgt Protin, (with the Minimi) who was a member of the GCM (Moutain Commandos)

Dominique Protin , a retired nursing assistant living in Blain (Loire-Atlantique) , raised his three children alone: Cécile, Alexandre and Ludivine. His life changed with the death of his military son on November 25, 2019, during a combat operation against the jihadists in the Malian Sahel .

A year later, Dominique can finally speak about the ordeals he went through, the denial of the death of his son, which imposed itself for a long time. And on the pain that will never go away.

A ring of the doorbell turns the life of this caregiver upside down

November 26, 2019 marked Dominique's life forever. A doorbell rings him at 6:30 a.m., as he is about to go to work. He does not answer. A second insistent ringing of the doorbell makes him react.

On the intercom, the voice of a soldier announcing that he is from 4 th Régiment de Chasseurs. He opens and sees three soldiers in front of his door. “They went up the seven floors very quickly,” he recalls.

They then informed him that, the day before, on November 25, a helicopter crash in Mali left 13 victims. Dominique immediately asks if Alexandre is injured. "They told me no, that he was deceased," blows the father of the family, who "loses consciousness. "

I asked them 200 times if it was true. I refused to believe it. My military son had appointed me as a trusted person. I had to warn her mother, I couldn't tell her, the soldiers told her by phone. I called my two daughters. The soldiers stayed with me for a good hour.

"He was a good kid, despite some nonsense when he was younger"

Dominique looks back on his son. “He was a good kid. Like many, he made little mistakes at a younger age, but he was a good friend, ”he recalls. And then, one day, Alexandre calls him to tell him that he is enlisting in the army. “I didn't understand,” admits Dominique.

Alexandre begins as a simple man of rank in the 4 th Chasseur regiment of Gap (Hautes-Alpes). “One of his superiors told me that my son would go far. Indeed, he has risen in rank, ”says his father.

He lived crazy training. I learned about his military life when he died. He didn't talk about this life, he didn't like to show off. The army was his second family. I hadn't printed this, now I understand. I discovered a beautiful person.

Dominique also became aware of another side of his son: that of a boy who, through the postcards he sends her from the depths of a country at war, testifies to a "faith".

I learned that he had faith, that he had met a priest with whom he was discussing death. He went to mass, he had a respect for men of religion. I knew he had asked the "Padre" as he called him: if something happened to me, how could I ease the pain of my parents?

Dominique admits that it is not easy for him to take the floor today to return to these painful events. This suffering, however, he managed to share with "soldiers affected in their flesh to have lost guys [who] did not know what to say to alleviate our pain . "

We did not know when the bodies would be repatriated. We stayed two days in Gap where I met his friends. I was stunned to see all these good kids hugging you, crying.

Finally, the bodies arrived six days later in Villacoublay (Yvelines) . “We did not have the right to welcome our children. It's hard to think that your son does not belong to us but that he belongs to the army . I understood later but at the time, it is hard. The 13 families, one by one, were then received at the Invalides

The next day, the family went to the hospital. “We gathered in front of a closed coffin. I told them they were stealing my mourning . During the ceremony, you have 13 coffins and you say to yourself: where is my son? "

"With hindsight, I understand", assures the dad. " The coffin has returned to Gap and you are returned to the gilded rooms. And we are waiting, president, ministers… ”, he adds. Dominique then "recoils" until he is "tapped on the shoulder" to tell him that Emmanuel Macron wanted to speak to him.

He and I looked each other in the eyes for a long time. Our exchange was not political. I made a wish: go and collect myself where my son lost his life. He made me a promise that he would make this wish come true.

Fifteen days later, Dominique was able to return with her son's ashes . “I wanted to resume night work a month later. I was cogitating. I ended up having a strong depression ” says.

This was without counting the first confinement, in the spring of 2020 . At that time, Alexandre's father was in the south, in Aix-en-Provence. His sister, who lives in Héric (Loire-Atlantique) refuses to leave him alone and makes him come. “It saved me,” Dominique whispers.

After that, I went back to work, but I broke down. I had a stroke. From caregiver, I passed to patient. Then I arrived in August in Blain.

Dominique, if he regains a taste for life, does not forget his son. “ I was in denial . The fact of having a closed coffin, I wanted to know if it was my son, because deep inside me, I was waiting for him to come home, ”he explains.

It took seven months to get the results of the investigation. And there "you are witnessing the death of your child through recordings", testifies the father of the family.

Dominique is not satisfied with this recording, he wants to know if his son had been returned to him. He made a request to access the file. On November 12, 2020, he went to Paris where he met the prosecutor who manages military affairs.

Alexandre Protin's father insisted on seeing photos of his son's body, to persuade himself that it was he who was in the coffin at the Invalides in Paris.

Again and again in denial, he insists on seeing photos of his deceased son. He is then shown "a photo of his arm with his watch which had melted" then another "of his body in a cover. "These pictures, very harsh, give Dominique a little relief:" What reassured me was to see that her body had not been too damaged. To know that my son is whole. "

Now I have images etched deep inside me. If I hadn't seen these photos, I would sink. I wanted to be given proof. It's not a coffin with a plaque that could prove it was Alexander.

His military daughter has just left for Mali in turn

A new ordeal now awaits Dominique. The father just saw his 30-year-old daughter , also a professional soldier, leave for Mali last Tuesday . “She is in the medical regiment and is helping the wounded. It is at the back, where mini-hospitals are installed, ”he explains.

“It's dangerous, because the jihadists shoot the caregivers . She had a workout. It's going to be difficult for her. She is going to mourn there, but her brother will watch over her… ”, he wants to believe.
 
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It has been revealed than on a TIC which happened on 20 November near Boulikessi, an Atlantique 2 MPA of the French Aéronavale dropped GBUs in support of French ground forces engaged against jihadists.

It is not the first time an ATL 2 delivers a GBU but it is less common than other air assets.

atl2_0.jpg
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
Apropos of nothing, the Colonel of the Light Dragoons just e-mailed me (and the rest of the association, via the association, not personally obviously) inviting me us to send Christmas parcels to members of the regiment who'll be in Mali for Christmas. The e-mail gave the Op a name but I forget.

Edit OP NEWCOMBE
 
It has been revealed than on a TIC which happened on 20 November near Boulikessi, an Atlantique 2 MPA of the French Aéronavale dropped GBUs in support of French ground forces engaged against jihadists.

It is not the first time an ATL 2 delivers a GBU but it is less common than other air assets.

View attachment 523942
Good use of assets in what remains a permissive air environment.
 
The FRA MoD has released information yesterday on a series of engagements between the Barkhane HALO Element (SGCP) teamed with Malian forces and various jihadist elements

Acting on intelligence sources, the Parachute Commandos Sub-group (SGCP) of Force Barkhane took part in an operation in the Boulikessi region.

Initially, the in-depth research and action patrol (PRAP) of the parachute commandos was tasked with establishing liaison with the garrison of the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) of Boulikessi which was awaiting its relief and is commanded by the G5 Sahel Joint Force.

Once this first step was completed, it was decided to recognize the axis through which the elements of the next unit had to progress.

On November 17, early in the afternoon, while the SGCP and FAMa were carrying out this reconnaissance, a first group of individuals traveling on motorcycles and setting up an ambush were detected. The soldiers of Force Barkhane then intercepted the enemy. An intense fight then began. Constantly informed about the arrival of enemy reinforcements and judging the terrain unfavorable, the French and Malian soldiers managed to carry out the attrition of the terrorists.

During this phase when the determined enemy tried to get imbricated with the French and Malian forces, the SGCP and the FAMa successively alternated fire actions and coordinated tactical movements guaranteeing the success of the action. Several armed terrorist groups (GAT) were neutralized and the Franco-Malian detachment was thus able to return to the Boulikessi camp without any casualties. The GATs still in the area dispersed as soon as the Force Barkhane air and aviation assets appeared on scene.

On November 19, under the protection of the helicopters and commandos of the Barkhane Force, the relief of the FAMa from the Boulikessi garrison was carried out without hindrance.

On November 20, the French military carried out harassment actions in the region. Supported by an Atlantique 2 which conducted a strike and helicopters, they were able to neutralize several GATs.
 
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Good old Gazelle! Older than God's dog and still in service. The Astazou must cost a fortune to keep in service.

The Gazelle is still by far the cheapest helicopter to operate for the ALAT outside the EC120 used for schooling new pilots.

The ALAT used to have not far from 300 Gazelle and spares are still abundently available unlike the Puma. They are supposed to remain in service until 2032
 
The NLD has announced that it will deploy a C-130H, a FP element, a Maréchaussée element and a role 1 to the MINUSMA from November 2021 and for 6 months.

The C-130 will be based in Bamako and it is likely going to be the final Op deployment of the type under dutch colours.
 
The NLD has announced that it will deploy a C-130H, a FP element, a Maréchaussée element and a role 1 to the MINUSMA from November 2021 and for 6 months.

The C-130 will be based in Bamako and it is likely going to be the final Op deployment of the type under dutch colours.

MEDEVAC aircraft?
 
Reminiscence of the Alouette k-cars in the Rhodesian war View attachment 524069
That looks like a G-Car with elements of a 4 man RLI stick aboard. There were three of them in a standard Fireforce armed with twin 303 Browning machine guns and were the troop carriers.

The K-Car was the command helicopter of the fireforce and carried the pilot who commanded the air side of the operations and an RLI or RAR Major who commanded the fireforce on the ground. The K-Car was armed with a 20mm Hispano cannon which fired exploding bullets aimed near the bad guy and the shrapnel brought him down. It was the main killer in the war and was operated by an Air Tec/Gunner.

There was also a Rheims-Cessna twin engined push-pull aircraft armed with rockets, cannon and Frantam (Napalm). By 1977 when the RLI and RAR were parachute trained, 4 or 5 sticks, each of 4 men were dropped by parachute.
fa
My apoligies for thread drift on your excellent thread @fantassin
 
The French bases in Gao, Kidal and Menaka were on the receiving end of IDF today.

They were all targeted within a 2-hour timeframe. Luckily, the terrorists are not very good with IDF and no casualties were incurred even though the MINUSMA side of the Kidal base was hit.

AQIM has claimed responsibility for the attack.

IDF attacks used to be a more regular occurence, especially on the Gao base but they had become quite rare in the last couple of years.

Since the terrorists are more competent in the use of IEDs, this is seen by some as the possible result of competent players having been removed from the battlefield in the recent past.
 
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