What It Means to Be Expeditionary: A Look at the French Army in Africa

#1

JINGO

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#2
Thanks for sharing. Very interesting read. We have forgotten a lot of lessons now we don't do "stand alone" operations.


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seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#4
Very, very interesting. The impression I get is that the Fr only just got away with it in Mali.
 
#5
Very, very interesting. The impression I get is that the Fr only just got away with it in Mali.
That was my read of it also.
Praise is certainly due for their success and it is not like we haven't been guilty of logistical and other combat related shenanigans but it does appear that Serval could very easily have been a disaster.
Where the austere, expeditionary approach championed in the article swiftly becomes lessons learned for what not to do.
 
#7
I'm disgusted you bothered yourself with logistics, no one else does.
 
D

Deleted 20555

Guest
#8
hmmm posted but vanished - it's been done before in Africa.

Fighting Columns in Small Wars: An OMFTS Model

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In this chapter Morris succeeds in his objective, namely to “assess the experiences of a small mobile brigade conducting conventional operations against a well-equipped, numerically superior enemy encountered at the end of a tenuous supply line.” This research paper should be on the desk of every African military planner.
 
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#12
Good article.
I like how Mindset and Risk are at the core of it

I suspect the American Way that is referred to could also be called "Anglo-Saxon" - a phrase the frogs use fairly often to describe our different way of doing things, not always dismissively.
Re Serval being a "close run thing", the fact it wasn't lost and that the lessons learned have been flagged up mean it can only be a step onwards/upwards.

Looking at what they achieved, in what timeframe and with what regional politcal and material support is still bloody impressive.
The repositioning/restructuring they have done to make Barkhane work are also worth considering

Pays to be a winner (even if said through slightly gritted teeth!)
 
#13
What It Means to Be Expeditionary: A Look at the French Army in Africa > National Defense University Press > Joint Force Quarterly 82

Picked this fascinating article up via Doctrine Man website - published in the Joint Force Quarterly over in the US, it takes a look at the lessons the French got in Africa and applies them to the US Army. In particular there is a good debate on armour versus mobility and logistics too.

I strongly commend this to the board for further reading and thought.
And yet the Scowcroft Institute are a tad unhappy at the lack of French participation in bolstering the Eastern borders.
 

chrisg46

LE
Book Reviewer
#14
So are we closer to the 'American' or the 'French' Way? It would be interesting to wargame this as if the UK had intervened instead of France.
 
#15
I have the feeling (from a couple of decades since leaving) that the UK would be doctrinally closer to the US way of doing things, while economically it may be wiser to be closer to the French . . .
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#16
I'm disgusted you bothered yourself with logistics, no one else does.
Or rather they ignore them in case the public think we are preparing for war!
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Very interesting.

Clearly light, and particularly wheeled, vehicles massively reduces the logistic burden.

And being able and prepared to move fast on less than full information, perhaps with less than perfect firepower, logistics and medic cover, generates initiative. Unless of course it all goes wrong, in which case it will probably turn from "wrong" to "disastrous" relatively quickly.

On the regrouping and improvising, we Brits (and indeed most of the rest of NATO) were very slick at this by the end of the cold war. It takes training at all levels, but particularly Bn, Bde, and Div (remember them), and lots of it.

I think the point about mission command is fundamental. And of course the French public is, I suspect, less concerned about FFL casualties.
 
#18
Very interesting.

Clearly light, and particularly wheeled, vehicles massively reduces the logistic burden.

And being able and prepared to move fast on less than full information, perhaps with less than perfect firepower, logistics and medic cover, generates initiative. Unless of course it all goes wrong, in which case it will probably turn from "wrong" to "disastrous" relatively quickly.

On the regrouping and improvising, we Brits (and indeed most of the rest of NATO) were very slick at this by the end of the cold war. It takes training at all levels, but particularly Bn, Bde, and Div (remember them), and lots of it.

I think the point about mission command is fundamental. And of course the French public is, I suspect, less concerned about FFL casualties.
AJAX is the answer ask the right question dammit
 
#19
Very interesting.

Clearly light, and particularly wheeled, vehicles massively reduces the logistic burden.

And being able and prepared to move fast on less than full information, perhaps with less than perfect firepower, logistics and medic cover, generates initiative. Unless of course it all goes wrong, in which case it will probably turn from "wrong" to "disastrous" relatively quickly.

On the regrouping and improvising, we Brits (and indeed most of the rest of NATO) were very slick at this by the end of the cold war. It takes training at all levels, but particularly Bn, Bde, and Div (remember them), and lots of it.

I think the point about mission command is fundamental. And of course the French public is, I suspect, less concerned about FFL casualties.
The Mindset will definitely take time and training.

The French pulled together the Serval team with their "Alerte Guepard" - (copied now with Active Edge ver 2.0).

The mobilisation exercises on SPTA are a good start, however still a way to go - look at the French attendance at other UK exercises in June and the convoy packets on the A303 to/from So'ton; this makes for good habits.

Re FFL casualties, appetite for; remember they were only a fraction of the initial French forces. Most heavy casualties were borne by Malians, Chadians and Nigeriens in their attached contingents.

I hesitate to let out the genie, however the drive shown does seem like a wider version of an "airborne ethos", is it a hark back to the French approach of "Elan"?
 
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