If Washington took four years, about 9 thousand Rangers, as well as 7 thousand “soldiers of fortune” from the Cheka to suppress ISIS* in Iraq, then Paris took six months and 4 thousand special forces to defeat the banned in Russia “Islamic state of Azawad”. In Mali, the French army during operation Serval lost 9 fighters, killing more than 1,200 militants.
All this, according to General Bernard Barrero, head of the French Army and author of the book “Notes on the war”, puts operation Serval among the most successful in the 21st century and brings the special forces of the Fifth Republic in the undisputed leaders among the Special operations forces of other countries.
Michel Shurkin, the political scientist of the analytical Corporation RAND (which is called the think tank of the White house — ed.), writes that the advantage of the French demonstrated in operation Serval, is the high combat qualities of expeditionary forces, which is not in other advanced armies.
According to Churkin, as part of operation “Serval”, the leadership of the French special forces planned a series of rapid and daring raids over long distances in the desert of Mali, to deprive the enemy of the initiative. Detachments appeared where the Islamists were not waiting for them. In the end, the leadership of the “Islamic state of Azawad” was destroyed in the shortest possible time. After that, the militant army was disorganized and subsequently fled. On the question of American military specialists, as it was, Bernard Barrero said proudly: “If you want to understand us, you need to read the novel by Pierre Sanderfer “La 317e Section” (the 317th platoon). In this book, as in the memoirs “Notes on the war”, describes in detail the structure and traditions of the Expeditionary forces of the Fifth Republic.
French special forces operating in Africa consist of separate units of approximately 200 men, including a platoon of MTR fighters, a platoon of armored vehicles, a logistics support group and a management group (headquarters). Guide away from base is carried out on a parity basis — officer special operations Forces and the officer of the platoon of armored vehicles. They are given maximum freedom in decision-making.
The French called the Pentagon doctrine of conducting expeditionary wars, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, “suspiciously scientific” and “similar to an industrial project.” Their own conclusions they made from joint operations, in which the fighters of the MTR, the US did not seek results, but only executed the orders of the officers. In us army a little that depends on fighting skill and courage of soldiers, the ingenuity of the officers, though those chase as Sidorov goats. The star-spangled generals do not welcome the initiative. Their skates are local “cannon fodder”, reconnaissance, satellite and unmanned target designation and, of course, hurricane firepower.
However, even such a regulated approach turns into a loss when one fails. Suffice it to recall Vietnam or a more recent example — Afghanistan.
In an unspoken dispute, whose army is better and whose special forces are more effective, we should remember the history of the Second world war. Paris became easy prey for Nazi Germany, so the stories Barrero on traditional heroism of the descendants of Napoleon’s look, at least, unconvincing and probably designed for the domestic audience of the Fifth Republic.
However, Rand experts have found a logical explanation for why the fanatical Azawad Was easily defeated. According to them, over the past 150 years, France had two armies — continental and colonial. The first was big and pampered. Its soldiers and officers believed their main occupation “career, love joy, a feast and a game of cards”. Participation in NATO has somewhat strengthened discipline, but overall standards of combat training are not high. The second French army consisted of a Foreign Legion, Marines and various regiments recruited from European settlers and indigenous peoples of colonial countries.
“These formations attracted officers of a different kind than those who went to the capital’s army, — Shurkin notes. — There were people who were looking for adventure and fame. Many of them are still annoyed by the stagnant military culture of the continental forces. In turn, the colonial service had and has an Elevator of opportunities for promotion, although it is dangerous.”
All this, of course, is interesting, but certainly not suitable for high-intensity battles. The fact that the French special forces acted in Mali against small groups of up to 100 people. Whereas in Mosul and in the raqqa ISIS connection reached 10 thousand and more motivated and battle-hardened infantry. It is easy to imagine what would have happened to the vaunted Foreign Legion if the “heroes of the Barrero” would have entered these cities with artillery and air support.
By the way, the Americans really “scientifically” came to the assault of Mosul, sending to the Islamists cannon fodder of the Iraqi “Golden division”, half of which was killed or wounded in street battles. You-the soldiers of the MTR, the US preferred to work under heavy guard snipers or gunners operators of artillery and aviation. At the same time, civilian casualties were considered a natural companion of the great war.
We can safely say that today the most important tool of The us special operations forces is the recruitment and training of “suicide squads” from among local residents. But in each case, the Yankees act in accordance with national specifics. In same Iraq, they bet only on money, not skimping on dollars — just like ISIS recruiters, luring most young men with “cash”. But in Ukraine, this task is solved by the Institute of national memory and its controlled media, fueling Russophobic sentiments among the illiterate youth. As a result, the cannon fodder of the “non-sovereign” is cheaper than the Iraqi “friendly army”.
As for the Russian special forces in Syria, our troops are betting on the formation of a friendly environment in the country — due to a more tolerant attitude towards the population. This tradition was generalized in the period of the liberation of Eastern Europe from fascism.
But what is striking is the high awareness of militants in clashes with Russian special forces, while the French, on the contrary, attacking the Islamists caught by surprise. If “someone” would have leaked information to the leaders of the “Islamic state of Azawad”, then there is no doubt that General Bernard Barrero did not take place as a victorious writer. We only have to guess about the impurity of Americans in Syria, however, for them, it is “just a proxy war.”
Yes, the French have achieved great and rapid success in operation Serval, however, in Mali, there are still powerful Islamist groups. Worse, their combat readiness is growing, and discipline is getting stronger. Now has not come out at night to break into the sleeping camp, only because the commander did not set up a guard, thinking the enemy far away.
With a high probability there may be a relapse of the “Islamic state of Azawad”, and this time to repeat the success of operation “Serval” will not work. In General, the losses of the French in Mali amounted to 26 soldiers, which is certainly a lot, because they are fighting against a small group banned in Russia “Jamaat Nasr al-Islam” numbering up to 800 militants, as well as other smaller gangs.”The attack on the French bases and UN bases in Mali was the last manifestation of the growth of jihadist terror, despite attempts to stabilize the situation in the country mainly by the French armed forces,” the france24 channel notes.
The UN report of 2018 on the situation in Mali says that the “asymmetric” attacks of Islamists in the country more than doubled compared to the year before. And in April 2019, Agence France Presse reported the brutal murder of 160 civilians by militants in just one month. “The violence continues despite the presence of a strong French military contingent, UN peacekeepers and the creation of armed forces from five countries in the Sahel region,” Paris States.
All this calls into question the success of operation Serval, which Bernard Barrero hastened to call the most successful.