Afghanistan , a poverty-stricken, mountainous Asian country with less than twenty million inhabitants (in 2004), is made of a mixture of people who are so attached to their culture and Muslim religion.
This country, which first became independence in the eighteenth century, experienced two wars during the nineteenth century resulting in her subjection to British control. It wasn’t until 1921 that she regained independence.
The Mujaheddin Resistance
In December 1979, for strategic reasons, the Soviets invaded the country but met with fierce resistance from the Mujaheddins, who backed by Saudi Arabia, the Muslim community, and the USA, took refuge in the mountainous areas from where they held the red army in check for ten years.
In 1989, the war period ended with the departure of Soviets. However, peace did not return to Afghanistan as immediately after, a civil war broke between the various Afghan tribes, Uzbeks, Turkmens, Tajiks, Baluchis, Hazaras…., who then had regained their traditional fighting potential, a situation local chiefdoms appreciated.
With the irruption of Bosnian, Palestinian and Egyptian Islamists, Soviet withdrawal was considered to be a great triumph of Islam over Western values. This conception inspired the creation of training camps supported logistically by Al Qaeda, a terrorist movement founded by Oussama Ben Laden, a wealthy Saudi fanatic, who vowed an out-and-out war against the United States , his principal enemy.
In 1996, the Talibans (students) took control over most of Afghanistan , except for the region north of Kabul , Commandant Massoud’s stronghold. On September 9, 2001 , several unprecedented suicide attacks were perpetrated on American soil by Al Qaeda members, killing close to three thousand American civilians.
A war against terrorism...
In retaliation, President George Bush declared war against terrorism and launched “Enduring Freedom”, a heavy military operation against the Al Qaeda network. In October and November 2001, very intensive military raids were carried out by American-British forces against the Talibans and their training camps. These camps were completely destroyed or disorganised. France , Canada and Germany , followed by Japan and the Netherlands , supported this action against international terrorism.
The North Alliance (non-Taliban Mujaheddins), opposing Ben Laden, took control over most of Afghanistan with the help of the coalition. On November 12, 2001 , Kabul was liberated. Except for a few armed elements who took refuge in the south-eastern and north-eastern regions of Afghanistan , most Talibans fled to Pakistan .
Sapeurs du 17e RGP.
Déminage de l'aéroport.
Kaboul - Afghanistan - Février 2002 - Source
The French intervention
Though France was not directly hit by the 9/11 attacks, she demonstrated much solidarity vis-à-vis the Americans in fighting international terrorism and ensuring safety in Afghanistan . Within the framework of Operations Heracles, Pamir and Epidote, she first of all dispatched the Charles de Gaulle nuclear aircraft carrier, about three thousand five hundred marines, three frigates, one combat submarine and one mother-ship to the region.
Opération Pamir XIV
Le 1/11e Cuir de Carpiagne engagé sur le difficile théâtre afghan.
Photo parue dans la Voix du Combattant de décembre 2007
The first French troops left in mid November 2001and were deployed in the region at the beginning of December 2001.
By mid December 2001, air campaigns started. Air engineer troops went to Manas, Kirghizistan, in order to set up an air military base. This was followed by the arrival of air resources, Mirage 2000 D and C 135 F flight-refilling aircraft tankards. Over 500 soldiers thus participated in the destruction of terrorist pockets of resistance.
Troops of the air force, the army, the national marine and the gendarmerie were mobilised.
With regards to special forces, the Special Operations Command (Commandement des Opérations Spéciales) entered the scene from 2003, and elite units like the 1st RPIMa, the 13th RDP and air force commandos fought the Talibans. They were backed by the commandos of the 11th shock troop, charged by the DGSE for assistance and collection of intelligence information. These special forces operate in secret and no precise information about their location, actual number and operations is furnished.
France equally participated in the training of the Afghan army, with the collaboration of instructors from various units, notably the infantry, the engineers and the artillery. The training of officers of the Afghan army is ongoing within the same framework. These actions are accompanied by a process of demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration of local militiamen.
It is hoped that these actions would enable the hunger-stricken civilian population, which for a quarter of a century has been battered by incessant armed conflicts, to savour peace at last, and also usher in a genuine economic development.