Legionnaires of the Second Parachute Airborne Regiment
This article will tell about the missions and combat operations of the Foreign Legion carried out by him in the late XX and early XXI centuries.
Persian War, Somalia and Bosnia
In 1991, during the Gulf War, combat units of the Foreign Legion took part in the capture of Al Salman air base in central Iraq.
Desert storm map
The 6th light armored division (Division Daguet, "Division-Dagger") then included the following units: the first armored cavalry regiment (three reconnaissance battalions of 12 armored personnel carriers AMX-10RC and armored personnel carriers VAB) and one anti-tank (12 anti-tank vehicles VCAC / HOT "Mephisto").
VAB, “front-line armored vehicle”
VAB-HOT (VCAC Mephisto)
2nd Infantry Regiment: command company, material support company, 4 mechanized infantry companies, anti-tank platoon, anti-aircraft platoon, (two 50 mm 53T2 anti-aircraft guns based on VAB armored personnel carriers), mortar platoon.
Armored Vehicle of the Second Infantry Regiment
"Commandos" of the Second Parachute Regiment.
Commandos from 2e REP at As-Salman, Iraq, late February 1991
As well as engineering and sapper parts.
6e REG legionnaires in Kuwait City in 1991
And these are the legionnaires of the First Armored Cavalry Regiment before leaving Iraq, March 1991:
In 1992-1996 Legion units were involved in UN peacekeeping operations in Somalia and Bosnia.
In Somalia, which was engulfed in the civil war, the actions of peacekeepers were successful only at first, during the humanitarian operation “Revival of Hope”, which began on December 9, 1992. Then it was possible to repair about 1200 km of roads, expand hospitals, and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid.
2e REP legionnaire observing Mogadishu, Somalia, December 1992
At the second stage of this mission, called Continuation of Hope (started in March 1993), it was decided to disarm the field units, clear the roads and take control of ports and airfields. This only led to the consolidation of various groups of militants, who also began to support the local population, who feared that the aliens' true goal was the occupation of their country. It all ended in a failed operation by the Delta special forces and rangers of the 75th regiment of the American army in Mogadishu, who tried to capture Somalia's most respected field commander, Mohammed Farrah Aidid. During the fighting in Mogadishu on October 3-4, 1993, the Americans lost 2 helicopters, and their paratroopers (160 people) and two snipers of the notorious Delta group were blocked by superior militant forces. The combat operation smoothly turned into a rescue operation, a reinforced company aimed at the city was unable to break through to the encircled, had to seek help from the Malaysians and Pakistanis, who with great difficulty were able to remove the American rangers from the encirclement. Killed 18 American soldiers, including two snipers of the Delta group, the corpses of which triumphant fighters dragged around the city for a long time. These cadres made the most unpleasant impression on the Americans, they even started talking about the “Somalia syndrome” - public rejection of even relatively small losses during small military operations. And numerous private military companies began to receive more and more contracts: their losses to society worried much less (if they worried at all). But we have already talked about private military companies, we will return to Somalia - and we will see that after the failure of the operation the Americans hastily withdrew their troops from this country, other peacekeepers followed suit. By all accounts, the clumsy actions of the coalition only led to an intensification of the civil war in Somalia, and even UN officials were forced to admit failure.
But the Americans managed to make money on this tragedy: in 1999, Mark Bowden's book The Fall of the Black Hawk was released: история about modern warfare ”(“ Black Hawk ”- the name of a downed helicopter). And already in 2001, a film was made from this book, which, with a budget of 92 million dollars, collected about 282 million at the box office (and managed to get about a million dollars for selling DVDs) and received two Oscars - for the best editing work and for the best sound.
Images from the movie "Black Hawk":
As for Bosnia, parts of NATO are still accused of connivance at the Serb genocide unleashed on the territory of this former Yugoslav republic.
1995 year. Joint exercises of the French Foreign Legion and British military units, about 10 km southwest of Sarajevo. Foreign Legion Technique - Right
Legionnaires of the second infantry regiment near the 120-mm mortar, Bosnia, 1995
And in 1995, DLEM legionnaires from Mayotte Island, as part of Operation Azalea, landed on the Comoros and arrested the coup mercenaries Robert Denard (this was described in the article “Bob Denard, Jean Schramm, Roger Folk and Mike Hoar: The Fate of the Condottieres”).
Operation Almandin and the Civil War in the Central African Republic
In April 1996, a strike of civil servants and teachers began in the Central African Republic, and on April 18, soldiers of the territorial defense regiment also revolted, whose salaries were not paid for three months. Were captured weapons depots, police stations and a prison from which the rebels released all prisoners. They could not take the presidential palace, but the head of state, Ange-Felix Patasse, fled to a French military base.
The French had to intervene - to take control of vital objects. So the operation Almandin began.
This time without a fight: having received a salary, the rebel soldiers returned to the barracks. But on April 18, the situation sharply worsened: after the president’s attempt to take control of the armored vehicles, the fearful revenge on his part, the military raised a new rebellion: the capital came under their control, and soldiers robbed the city for a week. French troops were transferred from Gabon and Chad, who began the evacuation of the European population (7 people were removed) and entered into battle with the rebels (Operation Almandin II), during which 12 rebels were killed and 2 Frenchmen wounded. After an unsuccessful attempt at negotiations, the rebels were surrounded in the Kassai barracks, 43 of them were killed during the assault, 300 were wounded.
On November 15, new unrest in the garrison soldiers began.
On December 3, two French soldiers patrolling the streets were killed. And on December 5, Interior Minister Christoph Grelombe and his son, whose headless bodies were found in front of the presidential palace, were kidnapped and killed.
On the night of December 8, the French stormed the headquarters of the rebels, where more than ten rebel commanders were killed, 30 were taken prisoner. At the same time, the actions of the French military were severely criticized in their homeland, where Jacques Chirac was already called the “African gendarme” - and he hastened to transfer control of the capital of the Central African Republic to the African military mission, guaranteeing its financial support. By February 28, 1999, all French troops were withdrawn from this country.
The French military again had to fight in the CAR in November 2006, when 300 soldiers, with the support of two Mirage F-1CR fighters, helped the authorities of this country repel the attack of UFDR militants on the city of Birao. And on the night of March 5, 2007, French paratroopers, trying to save the European population of this city and their operational support unit (18 people), released this city, having lost 6 people killed and 18 wounded. A number of liberal media outlets immediately branded France, accusing its servicemen of conniving torture and murder of prisoners and civilians, as well as violence and robbery. As a result, during regular battles that unfolded in the Central African Republic in late 2012 - early 2013, a French detachment of 250 received orders from Paris not to interfere in the confrontation, Central African President Francois Bozise had to flee the country, and Muslim militants began to “clean up” the Christian population.
Third company of the second parachute regiment, CAR, December 28, 2012
This time, the French failed to leave the CAR; they even had to increase the size of their group to 1 (and 600 soldiers were provided by African states). All this happened in the framework of the operation Sangaris (the name of the butterfly), which continues in our time.
French soldiers, Operation Sangaris, 2013
French checkpoint, Operation Sangaris, December 22, 2013
French troops continued to suffer losses. So, on December 9, 2013, 2 French soldiers were killed in a clash with militants.
1er REC legionnaires with Panhard ERC 90 in the Central African Republic, 2015
2e REI legionnaires in the Central African Republic, 2015
Cote d'Ivoire, Libya and Afghanistan
From 2002 to 2004, paratroopers of the Second Regiment participated in the operation of the French army "Licorne" ("Unicorn"), which was carried out in Côte d'Ivoire, where, after an attempted military coup, a war broke out between the northern and southern provinces.
Legion Fighting Vehicle in Cote D'Ivoire, 2002
French units took part in events in Libya in 2011. Three groups of French soldiers acted: in the city of Misurata besieged by government troops, in Benghazi and on the Nafus Highlands. The marines of one group "worked" in their uniforms, the unknown "commandos" of the other two - in uniform without identification marks, and most likely at least one of them consisted of soldiers of the Foreign Legion. Alex Ponyatovsky, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, said at the time that there were from 200 to 300 fighters of the French special operations forces in Libya at that time. War journalist Jean-Dominic Merchet wrote about seventy. Many now suspect the involvement of the French army in the destruction of several convoys of the Libyan government at Benghazi in 2011.
Until 2012, units of the Foreign Legion were in Afghanistan.
2e REP legionnaires at their outpost in Afghanistan, around 2011
There were no losses here either.
Legionnaires of the Second Engineering Regiment (2e REG) say goodbye to two soldiers, Afghanistan, December 29, 2011
Serval and Barkhane operations
On April 29, 2012 in the African state of Mali (the former colony of France, known as Upper Senegal and French Sudan), regular presidential elections were scheduled.
Mali on a map of Africa
These elections were not destined to take place, because on March 22 a military coup took place in the country, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, who studied military affairs in the United States. The National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and the Revival of the State, created by the rebels, came to power: there are no bays in the distant Timbuktu, contrary to the text of the famous song of the Secret group, so let there be democracy.
On April 8, President Amadou Tumani Toure, who was removed from power, finally wrote an official statement of “voluntary resignation,” and on April 12, Dioncund Traore, who had once graduated from Nice University, swore allegiance to Mali and democracy. This gentleman sympathetic to the French, of course, none of the Malian people chose, but the United States and France demanded "the restoration of civilian rule."
For some reason, the Malays did not appreciate such concern of the world community: on May 21, a crowd of thousands seized the presidential palace, Traore was beaten up quite a bit, he had to be evacuated “out of harm's way” to France, where he stayed for more than two months - until the end of July .
But for Mali’s complete happiness, all this was not enough: on April 6 the Tuareg tribes revolted, who decided that since such a democracy had begun in the country, they too could organize their own independent state - Azawad. And by the way, the refugees from Libya turned out to be very helpful too - from the Tuareg-related tribes, supporters of the ousted Muammar Gaddafi. One of these fugitives, Mohamed ag-Najim, Colonel in the Libyan Jamahiriya army, became commander of the rebel forces. And then the Islamists joined in: Ansar al-Din, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, and other groups. On May 5, the city of Timbuktu was captured (another spelling is Timbuktu). At first, the Tuaregs considered the Islamists as allies, but when they put forward the idea of a Sharia state, they changed their minds. In general, previously the united state of Mali fell into three parts.
In December 2012, UN officials decided to send a peacekeeping corps of 3300 African troops to Mali, which was supposed to go there in September 2013 and be there for one year. However, already on January 11, units of the first infantry and second parachute regiments of the French Foreign Legion appeared on the territory of this country, which, as part of the Serval operation, launched hostilities on the side of President Traore, who was unknown to anyone (but, in general, it is clear who appointed).
Soldiers of the Second Parachute Regiment of the Legion await orders to board a plane departing for Mali
Francois Hollande was in such a hurry that he violated the laws of France by ordering the start of a military operation outside the country, without waiting for approval by his parliament (who nevertheless approved his actions “retroactively” - January 14).
On January 20, 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron also expressed concern, declaring his country's determination (also far from being African) to begin the fight against the "threat of terrorism" in Mali and North Africa. He did not bind himself with any terms, so he said bluntly: “We will react for years and even decades.”
Concerns about the situation in Mali were also expressed by the leaders of the United States, Canada, Belgium, Germany and Denmark.
Evil tongues claim that the reason for such a united interest of the Western powers in Mali was the minerals, which were too many on the territory of this country. Explored gold deposits, for example, according to geologists, are the third in Africa. And in Mali there is silver, diamonds, iron ore, bauxite, lead, manganese, tin, zinc, copper, lithium and uranium.
Some people believe that the military coup Amadu Sanogo was just a staging, which allowed to bring to power “the right person”, which the dull Malian people themselves could not choose.
But back to the description of the fighting in Mali.
On the night of January 26, the legionnaires captured the bridge over the Niger River, killing 15 militants, and then the airport.
Soldiers of the Foreign Legion around Gao, Mali, 2013
1er REC vehicles (AMX 10 RCs + VBLs) during Operation Serval in Mali, 2013
On January 28, having covered 5 km in 900 days, a company of the second parachute regiment of the Foreign Legion and parts of the 17th parachute engineering regiment captured Timbuktu.
2e REP legionnaires in Timbuktu, Mali, late January 2013
Kidal was taken on January 31, and Tessalit on February 8.
The French acted as follows: paratroopers seized airfields and bridgeheads, on which engineering units immediately landed, ensuring the restoration of the infrastructure and runways necessary for the uninterrupted supply of strike groups, then armored vehicles approached.
French fighters at Bamako Airport, Mali, January 17, 2013
From February 18 to March 25, two French tactical groups of 1,2 thousand people (mostly paratroopers) and 800 soldiers from Chad “cleared” the Adrar-Iforah massif. Here, on February 22, the Chadian units were ambushed: 26 people were killed and 52 wounded. The French during this time lost 3 people killed and 120 wounded. The militants who were defeated switched to a guerrilla war, which continues to the present.
Since July 2014, the Serval operation smoothly transferred to another, called the Barkhane, and spread to four more states: Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.
1er REC legionnaires in Chad in 2012:
In November 2019, the French near the borders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger carried out operation Bourgou-4 against Islamist formations.
Foreign Legion units are still located in Mali - without a UN mandate, which apparently does not interest them at all.
During this time, 41 French troops, including legionnaires, were killed on the territory of this country. 13 of them died on November 25, 2019, when the Cougar military transport helicopter collided with a Tigre fire support helicopter at night. Among them was a native of Belarus, 43-year-old senior sergeant A. Zhuk, the father of four children, whom E. Macron called the Frenchman at the farewell ceremony on December 2 of that year “not by the blood received as an inheritance from his ancestors, but by the blood shed by him ", Saying:" He made his choice: to protect our country and our values. "
To himself, Macron was probably once again pleased by the fact that there was a connection in France that no one was sorry to send even to Afghanistan, even to Iraq, even to Mali.
And on May 1, 2020, there was a message about the death of the Ukrainian Dmitry Martynyuk, Corporal of the First Armored Cavalry Regiment, who had served in the French Foreign Legion since 2015. President Macron expressed condolences on this occasion, his representatives said: “The President of the Republic with great regret took the news of the death on May 1 of Corporal Dmitry Martynyuk in the military hospital of Percy de Clamar due to injuries sustained from the rupture of an improvised explosive device. This happened on April 23 during an operation against terrorist groups in Mali. ”
In March 2012, a number of publications published publications on the detention of 118 French troops in Syria, including 18 officers in Homs (the primary source is the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram) and 112 in Ez-Zabadani. The fate of these Frenchmen, as well as the unit they represented, remained unknown: probably, the French authorities somehow bought them out or exchanged them for political concessions. Many quite logically assumed that we were talking about the paratroopers of the second parachute regiment of the Foreign Legion, since if they were available from the French it would be foolish to send their compatriots to this extremely risky operation. Probably, we can talk about a major military failure of the legionaries sent to Syria, we will not know the details of this story soon.
Another mysterious story with the French military (legionnaires?) In Syria occurred in May 2018: 70 soldiers (a convoy of 20 jeeps) were detained by government forces in the province of Hasek, allegedly dropping there by mistake. Kurds appeared to rescue the French, who said that foreign military men were coming to them and took them to the city of El-Kamyshly controlled by the Syrian Kurdish Self-Defense Forces (YPG). The further fate of these soldiers is unknown, but Erdogan, who considers the YPG a terrorist organization, was very unhappy.
Since 2016, the legionnaires have been in Iraq with the official mission of "assisting the government forces" of this country. But on January 5, 2020, the Iraqi parliament demanded the withdrawal of all foreign troops.
Summing up, we can say that the legionnaires today, it seems, are not bored.
In the next article, we will end our story about the history of the French Foreign Legion.