The French in Mali

| February 1, 2013

Jeff sends us a link to the Christian Science Monitor which had this video at the end of their article on how hoo-ah the French really are despite what is our general opinion of them. They should have put the video up front. It’s supposed to be the French Foreign Legion’s 2 Parachute Regiment on their jump into Mali on January 28th and it’s supposed to dispel the myth that the French are “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”;

Yes, I have wood. Watching someone besides me make a night combat jump does that.

But the French Foreign Legion aren’t French, CSM, it’s right there in the name – the only thing French about them is where they get their paychecks. I’m not taking anything away from the French. They are doing an admirable job in Mali, but they’re a professional military force and they’re facing a bunch of people whose only training was pulling triggers without hurting themselves. Well, at first.

The CSM thinks it’s laying to rest the popular contention that Mali will be France’s Afghanistan because of the recent swift victories in Africa. Well, they might remember that it only took us weeks to toss the Taliban out of Afghanistan, too. The tough part isn’t the strategic traditional battle against the jihadists using massed fires and maneuver, it’s when the insurgency strikes that we get bogged down and the loser is the guy who tries to fight an insurgency like its on a European battlefield instead of the fact that it’s being fought in a third world shithole using third world shithole rules.

As long as we’re learning about history, it’s also time to put to rest the foolish trope so popular in some American circles that France is a wimpy has-been power that doesn’t dare get its feet wet, even in good causes. This month, they’ve beat back jihadis in Mali, at least giving the country a chance to work out its own internal problems (which of course, it may well fumble again.)

Yeah, well, it’s that last part that’ll bog the West down in Africa and it’s foolish national pride that will do it. Well, that and trying to win on the cheap with that snooty European idea that somehow in war, we’re better than they are in the way we wage war. The first time some French soldier pees on a dead jihadist and it hits the front page of Le Monde, the war is lost.

Category: Terror War

Comments (19)

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  1. TSO says:

    I agree with the CSM on this one, Foreign, domestic, whatever, the French in this case are kicking ass.

    Also, I thought of the old thing about “Only Nixon could go to China.” Only Holland could send in airborne asskickers and get away with it in France.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The hard part is how you extricate yourself after you kick the bad guys asses. If your politicians can’t make up their minds on a strategy, then you get bogged down. The French, particularly the the 2e REP (at the time BEP) have experience in this area. Remember that the 2E BEP was wiped out after jumping into Dien Bien Phu. Let’s hope they don’t repeat that CF…

  3. bullnav says:

    The last comment (at 3:39 pm) was mine…

  4. FatCircles0311 says:

    What we see here is a real exclusive and rarely seen French c130 in it’s native habitat. Explorers for years have thought this species was extinct and it’s a great find to see these still exist in the wild…

    FFL are scumbags supreme. Their French officer handlers have no control over those thugs and it’s only a matter of time until their shenanigans become public. US military conduct and FFL conduct are miles apart, so it will be interesting how much of a shit storm will be raised when it’s a eurozone country.

  5. Hondo says:

    First few aircraft in the video are C-160s. Saw quite a few of them while deployed. They’re a European aircraft that’s quite similar to the C-130, but they only have 2 engines vice the C-130’s 4; the tail’s also slightly different.

    Last aircraft in the video does appear to be a C-130.

    Always wanted to catch a flight on a C-160 to see how different it was from a C-130, but never had the opportunity.

  6. COB6 says:

    #5 Checking out a C160 after a C130 ride is like climbing out of a Corvette and getting into a Vega. Actually the interior is almost identical but it’s performance both in terms of speed and range are about half of the old Hercules.

  7. AverageNCO says:

    I agree with the notion that this may not all go quite so well for French in the long run. The French seem to taking care of things with the Islamist Rebels, but as they press further north they will have do deal with the Tuaregs. The Tuaregs haven’t opposed what the French are doing in Southern Mali with Islamists, but have stated they will not allow the Malian Army to return to northern cities they are controlling. And many of the Tuaregs are not, “a bunch of people whose only training was pulling triggers without hurting themselves.” These guys spent decades serving as Gaddafi’s thugs helping him oppress his own people. They have plenty of training, and when their boss was getting overthrown in Lybia, they headed back home, taking a lot of their equipment with them. The Malian Army had been able to handled the Islamists for years. It was Tuareg mercenaries return to Northern Mali that split the Malian Army’s operations, which caused a schism within the Amry, caused the military cout..and so on. and so on…. One more example tht the Arab Spring wasn’t everything is was being portrayed to be. Sure no one cried when Gaddafi was taken out. But for every action, there is an equal reaction.

  8. Ex-PH2 says:

    Ah, the Tuareg.

    Tuareg is an Arabic term meaning abandoned by God. They call themselves Imohag, translated as free men. They know the desert the way the ocean knows the shore. Fierce fighters.

  9. jonp says:

    @FatCircles0311: your an idiot to make a statement like that. I know a number of ex-FFL and they are some of the finest people and soldiers I have met.
    I made a number of night jumps in full rattle but never a combat jump.

  10. NSOM says:

    re #9

    I don’t know, the Legion can be a pretty mixed bag and his description isn’t too far off from my own experience. Those dudes are hard as shit but they’re mostly French petty criminals from the lower classes who enlisted under a pseudonym because they can’t get into the regular forces, Europeans who got kicked out of their home country’s military or third world enlistees looking to escape their place of birth. They’re a world apart from the cultural norms of western civilians.

    I worked with the French in the Horn and spent a lot of time in the country outside of work, with expatriate family. It’s worth bearing in mind that European militaries are not as broadly representative of their nation’s civilian population as in the United States. They’re much smaller, culturally sequestered and not as viable a path to socio-economic upward mobility. They’re also frequently looked down upon. They draw a different sort of crowd, even in Britain, the country whose military is most like our own.

  11. COB6 says:

    re #9/10
    I have a considerable bit of experience with the FFL. To Jonp’s point, I would say that there are certainly some stud soldiers in the FFL and there is absolutely no lack of courage in the ranks. But to call them the “finest people and soldiers I have met” is totally divorced from reality unless you are in a maximum security facility pimping prison bitches and getting tatoos in a toilet stall.

    French officers in the FFL are often referred to as “Geyliers” by other French officers. The word means jailer and unfortunately it’s fairly appropriate in most cases.

    I would never have a problem being in a firefight with a bunch of guys from the FFL but I never allow my family to live in a neighborhood full of them.

  12. jonp says:

    My comment did not include all soldiers in the FFL as no military is comprised of ballet dancers. They have good ones and bad ones and if you ask me in a firefight i’d much rather have the FFL next to me than a vast number of other troops i’ve met. I’m not looking for gentlemen prima donna’s to cover me, I want nasty men who will do what it takes. IMHO only. The FFL today is what the American Military was during WW2 before PC and social engineering started it down the path of destruction.

  13. FatCircles0311 says:

    @9: I guess my time where I saw them operate and worked with them doesn’t equate to a valid opinion regarding their unprofessionalism, thug tactics, and downright terrible soldiering. I guess getting drunk with STD infested hookers while on duty with weapons, then going out in town just beating up random people because they were out of control drunks just didn’t happen. They hate their regular french handlers and aren’t controlled by them by the least. They did whatever they wanted because that’s the norm for them.

    I won’t go into their inability to clear weapons without killing each other because that’s another bag of dicks that doesn’t fit the myth of the FFL being pros.

  14. PALADIN says:

    @4 Yeah most of em are pretty rough dudes, but they do know how to fight , and they are some mean sons a bitches.
    I ran into a bunch of em in 85 , in Tel Aviv when my company was on our way home from a UN mission in Lebanon.
    They came into the bar where we were and it was’nt long before the bottles started to fly.
    The Tel Aviv Police were on hand and called for back-up , and before long their officers showed up and herded em outta there.
    A lot of em were carrying switch blades and short samurais they had in special scabbards inside the legs of their BDU’s.
    They were mostly eastern european’s and asian’s with a few black dudes from their former colonies.
    The bastards ruined our evening out on the town , as we got kicked outta the bar too.

  15. When we were in Bosnia, I loved sitting with the Germans and French cops talk about who won WWWII. After they argued for a while, I’d speak up and remind them it was the US who actually won that war.
    The Germans still call the French Surrender Monkeys.
    the French still think DeGaul (that asshole) freed the French.

  16. USMCE8Ret says:

    Stinking french. I wish then well and mission success. Not sure the french regular army could have the success the legionnaire have had in the past. Just seems to me another 3d orld country being snatched aourd by a fomer colonial army.

  17. Aladdin says:

    I have to agree with fat circles here… The FFL is probably the most overrated ‘Elite unit’ in any modern first world army. Badly equipped, poorly trained, incompetently lead and mostly coming from questionable backgrounds, these people can and often do get into trouble when on deployment, training or even just in barracks. I’m saying this as an observer from the inside. Ask any other honest ex legionnaire and they’ll tell you the same. I will say your average legionnaire by nature of our working culture, tends to be above average in physical fitness and psychological resilience which are of course important qualities for any soldier. However proficiency in map reading, weapons handling, basic fire and movement maneuvers and even an acceptable competence in the French language tend to be lost on these lads.

  18. Y. says:

    After they argued for a while, I’d speak up and remind them it was the US who actually won that war.

    You forgot USSR, dude.

    They took care of most of the ‘fighting’ business and killed more German troops than all other allies combined- a little over 3 million..

  19. Vcb says:

    The French foreign legion have something like 30% of french soldiers enlisted under french canadian or belgian id.( not counting officer ). And just 2-3 days ago the 1st RCP ( regiment de chasseur prachutiste ) did exactly the same thing than the 2nd REP…