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Ottawa, June 2008



"France will maintain its forces in Afghanistan. Our country wishes to adapt the role of its forces to make them more efficient and in particular to ensure that they will be in a better position to train the Afghan army. But there is no intention to withdraw our troops. France will

remain loyal to its commitments and to its allies”

(Statement made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy during his meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Paris on 5 June)

“I solemnly declare to you today: France will remain engaged in Afghanistan for as long as it takes. The future of our values and those of NATO rest on the fate of the mission in

Afghanistan. Failure is not an option.”

(Statement made by Nicolas Sarkozy before the American Congress, November 7, 2007)

“We must simultaneously increase stability in Afghanistan and in terms of training, we must continue our efforts, along with our allies, in order to ensure that the Afghan army is

self-sufficient as soon as possible. It is key to the success of the commitment made by the international community because it is the Afghan army that must be on the front lines and win

the fight against the Taliban.”


1. France has not turned a blind eye to Canada’s call for help in Afghanistan

Since 2002, French forces have been involved in Afghanistan, mainly in Kabul and in the regions of Kandahar (2003-2006) and Jalalabad (2006).

French troops participate in the fight against terrorism and the stabilization of Afghanistan with ground, naval, and air support through UN resolutions and other international agreements. This participation is not limited by any parliamentary mandate and includes:

- 1,000 troops in the RCC of Kabul under French command; the participation of

each country in ISAF was negotiated within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and today, all of them are working together in accordance with the terms of the missions entrusted to them by the Alliance; there are no

caveats on French troops;

- France also plays an active role in training the Afghan Army. This mission is

essential to the long-term stabilization of the country: more than 5,000 officers have been trained by French instructors.

French OMLTs follow Afghan forces everywhere

Our effort has been stepped up following the decisions announced at the

Riga NATO summit and more recently by President Nicolas Sarkozy (who visited Afghanistan on December 22, 2007), as follows:

- Since September 30, 2007, the participation of 6 aircrafts (3 Mirage 2000

and 3 Rafale) based in Kandahar in missions to assist ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom ground forces ;


- the training of Afghani special forces and the strengthening of our participation in the training of the Afghan army (Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team). 200 instructors have joined the Afghan staff (corps and brigade levels) and a battalion, including for operations outside Kabul (South and East in specific). At the Noordwijk NATO Summit, France announced that a team of instructors will be sent to the South in the Uruzgan Province where mollah Omar used to live. - the supply of certain critical capabilities (particularly the dispatch of two Cougar transport helicopters).

At the 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit (April 2–4), the President of the Republic announced that France will send an additional 700 soldiers to eastern

Afghanistan to contain al-Qaida infiltrations at the Pakistan border. This will make it

possible for American troops to be redeployed in southern Afghanistan to assist Canadian troops in Kandahar. Furthermore, one hundred thirty French soldiers have just been deployed in the Kandahar region. These soldiers are part of the French Operational Mentoring Liaison Team (OMLT) deployed on behalf of the Afghan 201st Corps. This OMLT was called on to backup the 205th Corps’ major operation in the Kandahar region.

As a result, Afghanistan has become France’s main stage for foreign military intervention.

2. Reasons for the French mission in Kabul

- The situation in Kabul remains fragile: During the last months, the Taliban have infiltrated the capital city in order to undertake suicide attacks and murder attempts against President Karzai. On October 2007, a French soldier died in Kabul. You can’t reasonably expect to secure the country if you do not secure its centre of decision: this is the task which has been assigned to the French forces, a choice which is supported by the Afghan government itself.


- France is directly responsible for the most difficult sectors in the Kabul region, such as Surobi, on the strategic axis leading to Pakistan, which commands access to the capital, includes the hydroelectric dam supplying Kabul with electricity, and remains constantly threatened by the Taliban.

- However, a deployment of our troops outside Kabul has been decided with the coming 5th OMLT in Uruzgan.

- Having said that, our medium-term objective is to transfer the entire responsibility of their own security to the Afghan authorities.

3. France’s participation in the reconstruction effort

France participates in the international effort of reconstruction in a bilateral manner, but more significantly, within UN agencies and the European Union. France

is financing approximately 16% of the EU contributions (1.5 billion Canadian dollars earmarked for 2002-2006). The eradication of poppy remains the most

seri-ous challenge for the country. In the framework of the fight against heroin trafficking, Paris organized and hosted in 2003 an international conference on the drug routes from Afghanistan. Convened on February 12, 2007, the Ministers Council confirmed the long term commitment of the EU, and decided to dispatch a mission in Afghani-stan to assist the police and to contribute to the reinforcement of the rule of law. Last but not least, Paris has hosted a ministerial conference in June 2008 to which

Canadian Foreign Affairs minister Mr. David Emerson attended.

A patrol of ISAF French soldiers involved in the surveillance of a school reconstruction in Anjirak

4. France has strong commitments in UN and NATO operations


Altogether, France has 33,000 troops overseas. Among them, 10,000 from all branches and services are deployed in operations. France is one of the biggest

contributors after the United States in crisis management missions:

- France sent troops to Lebanon in less than 72 hours. There are now 1,700 troops on the ground;

- The presence of France in Cote d’Ivoire (2,600) and Central Africa (400) is the cornerstone of the UN mission and contributes to the stability of West Africa;

- Similarly, in Chad (1,100), French troops are a major factor in the stability of a very versatile region and contribute, to a certain extent, to prevent the spread of the


Darfur crisis. In February, more than 850 foreigners have been evacuated by the French forces during the combats in N’Djamena, including 9 Canadians. With 2,100 troops, France is also the driving force of the EUFOR which will deploy in East Chad and CAR.

- Another significant presence is in the Balkans: approximately 2,000 troops in Kosovo and 150 in Bosnia.

French military have been involved in most of these places for decades and have paid a heavy sacrifice: 100 French soldiers lost their lives in the Balkans,

more than 100 died in Lebanon (58 of them in Beirut on October 23, 1983), and dozens in Africa. In Afghanistan, 13 soldiers died and more than 100 have been injured. According to a chart published in the August 25, 2007 Globe and Mail, France is second in terms of the proportion of soldiers killed in action after Canada./.




Related subjects : Nicolas Sarkozy