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Middle east

France’s military presence in Afghanistan

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-20

Fighting alongside US troops since 2001, the French military deployment in Afghanistan reached 3,750 soldiers in 2009. FRANCE 24 takes a closer look at where French troops are and what they are doing across this troubled country.

France has been in Afghanistan from the very beginning of combat operations, following the launch by the US of operation “Enduring Freedom” on October 7, 2001, in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) was officially created at the Bonn conference on December 5, 2001. The following day, a battalion of 220 French soldiers arrived in the Afghan town of Mazar-e-Sharif, in the north of the country.

In November 2009 the French contingent numbered some 3,750 men and women. In December, however, US President Barack Obama called on his allies to increase their troop commitments. This request was initially ignored by France, which finally relented in February 2010 with the announcement it would sent 80 “gendarmes” to work in support of the Afghan National Army, bringing the French commitment to more than 3,800.

French military presence in Afghanistan © France 24

Air support (Dushanbe, Tajikistan):
Two Transall C-160, military transport aircraft, ensure the delivery of supplies into the conflict zone. One C-135 is used for in flight refuelling.

The Joint Tactical Group of Kapisa assists the Afghan National Army in security operations in the region.

Drones in Baghram: Two Harfang drones carry out monitoring and reconnaissance missions for ground troops.

The Headquarter Battalion (BCS) based in Kabul coordinates logistical operations for all French troops in the war zone.

The Helicopter Battalion (Bathelico), also based in Kabul, is used for ground support, surveillance, medical evacuation missions and transporting troops.

The aerial combat unit in Kandahar comprises three Mirage 2000 and three Mirage F1 jet fighters.

The Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier is used for several air support missions.

41 French soldiers have died in combat operations in Afghanistan. The deadliest attack came in the summer of 2008, when a Taliban ambush in the eastern valley of Uzbin killed 10 French soldiers and wounded 21 others.

Date created : 2009-12-02