Monday, September 21, 2009

New French Brigade and Special Forces in Afghanistan

Over at Secret Defense, Jean-Dominique Merchet has news on the French deployment to Afghanistan. Since JDM is usually well-informed, I'm going to do my usual translation job (Alma might have to take over on this front for the next month though, since I'll be traveling for work).

Ok, here we go again.

Starting in November, the French deployment will be significantly reorganized, with the creation of a French brigade, which will be baptized Lafayette...The Americans will appreciate the recognition to a French hero of the American war of independence but the British might not feel the same [this is JDM not me! back to the actual point].

This La Fayette brigade will be responsible for Surobi and Kapisa districts, which are already under French responsibility. The brigade will be commanded by a General, with headquarters in Nijrab. The brigade will have two joint tactical groups. One will mostly be the 13th battalion of chasseurs alpins and the second will be the 2nd foreign parachutist regiment.

Each group, other than its command, will have support elements and three combat companies. In total, six combat companies were to be deployed. It was therefore necessary to find two more than we have today but without looking like we were increasing the numbers deployed.

The guard for Warehouse Camp in Kabul will be transferred to the Georgian Army which will free up the French company currently assigned there. For the second, the general staff will no longer count the sailors deployed in the Indian Ocean with OEF, thereby allowing the deployment of 150 men to the theater.

Similarly, the 150 gendarmes assigned to train the Afghan police will not be counted....because they are on a different mission. The ten helicopters will remain at the Kabul airport.

Second, still at Secret Defense, this time here, French Special Forces are returning to Afghanistan. Apparently, approximately 150 troops would be deployed. What would be their role? Merchet says this remains to be determined because it's hard to explain exactly what makes operations special in COIN.

In any case:

The special forces would be under commander of the Lafayette Brigade commander and would work closely with allied special forces, especially American forces...Since their return from Afghanistan [in 2007, French special forces were deployed during Operation Ares at Spin Boldak and briefly in Jalalabad], French Special forces suffer from not being used in what they view as the main operational theater for the French Army. General Georgelin, who leaves his post in February, was reluctant to send the forces to Afghanistan.
Ok, this time I'm done...


  1. Does the article say whether this brigade will fall under RC-C or RC-E?

  2. Tintin, I looked again (it was actually updated since yesterday) but it didn't say.

  3. Thanks. I'd also be curious whether this will affect the French OMLTs in Uruzgan and elsewhere.

  4. OT: Hey guys, I wondered if you had a chance to look at the Kagan slide show at Abu Muqawama and what you all thought about slides 40-45 or so: basically, why a more pure CT operation wouldn't work, logistically or otherwise, in their estimation....

  5. There are a bunch of little factual errors in the slideshow, but overall I thought it was very good - although I can't for the life of me imagine where 6 more light BCTs or equivalents would come from.

  6. Tintin, I have a major problem with presentations urging a sharp increase in ISAF combat troops. The reason this many forces are needed is to quickly turn Afghanistan around according to the US political calender (November 2010 and November 2012.)

    There is another strategy that focuses more on building Afghan capacity that would take longer to win that doesn't seem to be considered.

    In my view there should be three major ISAF objectives in Afghanistan:
    1) Short term combined security operations with the ANSF to improve short term Afghan security (what Abu Muqawama calls Triage)
    2) Medium term Afghan capacity building (ANSF, civilian parts of the GIRoA, other Afghan institutions)
    3) Long term economic growth so that GIRoA revenue can start to pay a larger share of the cost of increased Afghan capacity.

    The hardest of these three missions is #3. The second hardest is #2. The easiest is #1. From 2001 to the present, #2 and #3 haven't gotten enough attention. #2 in particular has been excessively neglected.

    The new strategy should focus most on #2, followed by #1; and be coupled with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of international grant pledges over decades. This is what will be required for victory.

    Tintin, the US military seems to think highly of the performance of the French in Kapisa and the French OMLTs, including in RC-East and RC-South.

    I would rather focus on ANSF battlespace for Kapisa and other areas near Kabul since they transition to the ANSF more quickly. Kapisa is currently 201st ANA Corps. However, the long term plan is for greater Kabul to come under the control of the 111st Kabul Capital Division HQs. {It seems like 111st is still under 201st command.}

    Currently, only Kabul is under RC-Center. So if the battle space stays as is, Lafayette Brigade would remain under RC-East, which is what the French seem to prefer.

    My view is that RC-Center should become super embedded in the 111st Kabul Division HQs and transition completely into an advisory brigade ASAP. Perhaps the Turks would be good candidates to lead it longer term.

    I think that the French Lafayette Bde should similarly super embed in 201st ANA Corps HQs. {In which case RC-Center should be subordinate to the French commander since 111st Division HQs is subordinate to 201st ANA Hqs.}

    I have some other thoughts on this as well. Please feel free to e-mail me offline if you wish. Lil and Gulliver have my e-mail address.