Opération Serval - Mali.

3 members of the MINUSMA have been KIA near Aguelhok today in what appears to be an IED attack; more to follow


RIP
The 3 blue helmets who were KIA on Sunday belonged to the Chadian contingent.


RIP
 
A translation of an article posted today on the FRA Army website about the HALO platoon permanently attached to Op Barkhane.


Detached from the Parachute Commando Group (GCP) of the 11th Parachute Brigade, the Parachute Commando Platoon of Op Barkhane is a particular unit.

It brings to the force the ability to intervene anywhere in the area of operation, from western Mali to eastern Chad, on very short notice. In complete autonomy, integrated or with another unit, its missions are offensive or defensive, but they can also be used in NEOs. The GCP can be engaged by all the French armed forces air assets available in the Sahel area but also by land, thanks to its MASSTECH (modified Toyota) pick-ups trucks specially equipped for commando missions.

Interview with Lieutenant Rudy, head of the tactical cell of the SGCP of Operation Barkhane:

What exactly is the Parachute Commando Platoon (SGCP) of Barkhane?

The SGCP of Operation Barkhane is composed of about 40 commandos divided into two infantry groups from two regiments. There is also an engineering element, an artillery element, accompanied by a Joint Terminal Attack Controler (JTAC), and a National Fire Observer (NFO) as a backup. A dog handler is also part of the commando. He is not HALO qualified, but he supports us in various missions. The dog is qualified, if possible, in two areas: "explosive research" and "attack". Finally, a doctor and a nurse complete the SGCP. In addition to all of these personnel, we have dispatchers to assist the commandos during jumps and heavy drops.

The peculiarity of the SGCP today is to have four commandos qualified as "tandem pilot". In the event of an airborne mission including an HALO jump, the non-HALO qualified personnel can easily be inserted this way.

What are the advantages of your SGCP?

Most of my commandos are soldiers who already have a solid operational background. The youngest among us is 27 years old, and I am the oldest! We have a number of SNCOs in our ranks as well as special qualifications such as JTAC, doctor, combat nurse, dog handler, etc.

The SGCP has the men and the qualifications that give it the strength to face all operational situations requiring mobility and lightning speed of reaction.

How is the SGCP engaged on the ground, which chain of command does it depend on?

My direct commander is in N'Djamena, where he commands the planning and Ops Cell. He is assisted by a signaller and an Oops NCO. These three people are under the direct orders of CDR Barkhane. I am therefore not subordinated to a Desert Battle Group (GTD). It may happen, however, that I am placed under the command of a GTD CDR, for example to capture an individual in an urban area, but this is not common.

What are the missions entrusted to the SGCP on Operation Barkhane?

On this mandate, we were mainly employed on LRRP (PRAP in French). We then act in the intervals, between the GTDs AORs, to harass the armed terrorist groups (GAT) even in their safe havens. We operate in Gourma as in Liptako, in this region known as the three borders, located between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. The other missions that can be assigned to us are helicopter (OHP) or airborne (OAP) operations. Finally, we are able to carry out GAT interception missions in an urban environment.

The mode of action chosen always depends on the desired effect. Sometimes we are put on 30 minutes or 60 minutes NTM. It will depend on the nature of the target

What memorable mission memories will you keep of this mandate?

During our first LRRP, we had the opportunity to implement a wide range of commando skills. We operated between GTDs AOOs. With their information, the SGCP was able to detect an enemy which was trying to bypass a GTD. A good terrain analysis made it possible to neutralize this armed terrorist group with an ambush, while it was trying to infiltrate the positions of the GTDs.

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Interesting FP article on the difference of views between France and the USA on future MINUSMA leadership and on possible future NATO involvement in the Sahel region

In fairness while the French can kill them, the Americans can bring influx of cash and resources that may finish them off…...
 
Algeria is giving 53 vehicles to the Malian armed forces.

It is an interesting move because at the same time Algeria is providing a safe heaven to Iyad Ag Ghali, the most wanted islamist terrorist of the region who has been hiding in Algeria near the Malian border since 2013 after his attack on Bamako was checked by the French intervention.

As several other islamist terrorists of the Sahel region since the 90s, some believe he is controlled by the Algerian secret services.

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TF Takuba update:

The Italians are supposedly still interested in possibly committing troops and RW assets to TF Takuba and discussions are on-going.

The Swedish contribution, which is supposed to be key as it would imply RW, is coming under fire from various Swedish political parties that want to cancel it in favour of home defense. More to follow in mid-June 2020 with a crucial vote which could stop the Swedish SOF from participating in TF Takuba as it has happened earlier in Norway.
 
The Op Barkhane HALO Platoon (SGCP), mounted on customized Toyota 4X4 has carried out a patrol between 9 and 17 May in the Gourma region of Mali which resulted in several terrorists neutralized and the seizure of weapons, over 20 motorbikes, Comms and various pieces of military equipment.

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are they "customised" in country by locals, or did the French bring them with them?
 
A large scale contact has occured In the Gourma region of Mali involving Barkhane ground and air assets. On 14 and 15 May, Barkhane killed 30 terrorists belonging to IS in the greater Sahara, destroyed 40 motorbikes, a technical and seized over 30 weapons including a HMG.

Link in French

Additional information on this operation at the below link


And some more views of the Mirage 2000Ds that form the backbone of the strike capability of the FAF in the Sahel region.

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Other pictures of the GCP's Technamm.

Here with a Panhard VBL
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In the background
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The patch on the man in the foreground is the GCP's TRF. The symbolism of the 5 stars comes from the 5 stars of the French HALO wings (below).

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Some recent PR shots of the Op Barkhane HALO platoon, the SGCP.

The GCP use a variety of rifles; G-36s (being phased out), SCAR H and L, HK 416s.

Depending on the area and season, the uniform used is either in the French CCE or French desert pattern

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And the non airborne equivalent of the GCP from the 27 Mountain Infantry Brigade are the GCM; they are also heavily deployed to Mali and the Sahel region, often as a QRF/extraction force but not only.

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The operational experience these guys build up must be huge - do they get cycled through the French army training establishments at regular intervals ?
 
The operational experience these guys build up must be huge - do they get cycled through the French army training establishments at regular intervals ?
Mostly if they ask to move out of their teams for family or other reasons or if they get WIA or injured and nevertheless stay in the forces.

The GCPs are the HALO Pn of the various regiments of the 11 Parachute Brigade. They are gathered as a HALO Task Group when on Op but when not deployed they are in garrison with the rest of their parent units. So their Op experience already percolates down to the various Rifle Companies and Sabre Squadrons of their respective regiments.

At the moment it's the golden years for the GCP and GCM; they get to do regularly what generations before them have trained for and never done. Some senior NCOs and enlisted are getting close to 10 operational jumps in their log books. Not yet RLI standards (a Certain Cpl Des Archer holds the record with 73 Op jumps !!!) but still much better than what their predecessors were allowed.

The GCP and GCM are small units and they constantly rotate through the Sahel region so once they leave the unit, someone else has to take the position so the teams are not understrength.
 

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