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Old 10-20-2014   #1
davidbfpo
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Default New boots, Chinooks please: French lessons for the US Army

A fascinating RAND study of France's Operation Serval in Mali and whether the US Army's expeditionary approach can learn lessons. There are some important caveats, notably reliance on French official sources as this campaign had virtually no media presence then and after:http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR770.html

The title comes from learning the French Army's boots failed in the heat amidst the rocky terrain and the one things they missed from Afghanistan. There are many other lessons, for this armchair observer the ability to move overland without major logistic problems.

There is a regional thread on Mali, a good part covers the French role:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=9254

Note the paper does not cover the "what next" question in the campaign, although it does comment on the difficulties Mali faces.

Added July 2016. There is a new commentary on the French action and the cited RAND report:http://ndupress.ndu.edu/JFQ/Joint-Fo...rmy-in-africa/
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Old 10-21-2014   #2
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Thanks for the heads-up on this one, Dave. I’ve scanned it and I’m looking forward to giving it a closer read.

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The title comes from learning the French Army's boots failed in the heat amidst the rocky terrain and the one things they missed from Afghanistan.
Now you’re got me curious as to what model boots the French troops were issued. This Meindl model, maybe? Certain leather treatments can weaken the glue, but the heat alone in a place like Mali could be enough to delaminate even the highest quality of boot soles. I suppose boots with a Norwegian welt—with a liberal coating of seam sealer protecting the exposed stitching—would be one answer, albeit a pricey one. I believe the IDF issues canvas boots with glued soles using the logic that a desert environment is going to kill boots quickly regardless, so might as well go cheap. I don’t know how supportive they are, though, and the logistics of expeditionary warfare are not a concern for the IDF.
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Old 10-21-2014   #3
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Best we remember that France's history, interests and goals in this region are completely different than those of the US, and in many ways much more practical, I suspect.

We need to be careful about getting too excited about any tactical insights when not balanced against a context of strategy. Next thing you know we'll be publishing a manual derived from the lessons learned of colonial and containment suppression operations, celebrating its tactical brilliance as somehow adding up to a strategy, and attempting to apply it as "COIN" to what we have been trying to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. Crazy.
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Old 10-21-2014   #4
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Best we remember that France's history, interests and goals in this region are completely different than those of the US, and in many ways much more practical, I suspect.

We need to be careful about getting too excited about any tactical insights when not balanced against a context of strategy. Next thing you know we'll be publishing a manual derived from the lessons learned of colonial and containment suppression operations, celebrating its tactical brilliance as somehow adding up to a strategy, and attempting to apply it as "COIN" to what we have been trying to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. Crazy.
Yes, hence the RAND author's numerous caveats.

What would be interesting is a comparison with the approaches used by the US military in a region familiar to them, using Bob's 'history, interests and goals'. The Phillipines comes to mind.

Being a civilian I was interested in the use of small company sized units as the basic building block and the use of troops based in West Africa and in France itself. The authors do refer to some issues over this.
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Old 10-21-2014   #5
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Being a civilian I was interested in the use of small company sized units as the basic building block and the use of troops based in West Africa and in France itself.
Is troupe de marine a career path? Or do soldiers cycle in and out of the TDM?
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Old 10-21-2014   #6
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Is troupe de marine a career path? Or do soldiers cycle in and out of the TDM?
Two open sources on the TDM clearly state they are a career path partly as their primary service is abroad - which includes France's far-flung territories. See:http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...-de-marine.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troupes_de_marine
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Old 10-22-2014   #7
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davidbfpo,

Where did it mention needing more/new Chinooks?

The SGTIAs are reminiscent of Marine Enhanced Company Operations/Distributed Operations, only with armored vehicles and task organization.
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Old 10-22-2014   #8
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davidbfpo,

Where did it mention needing more/new Chinooks?
Not to put words in Dave’s mouth, but I assumed it was an indirect reference to the following on p. 38 of the report:

Quote:
The surgical “antennas” and “modules” refer to field hospitals. An antenna unit is a light, air-transportable unit designed with the capacity to serve the needs of 1,000 soldiers “exposed to occasional losses.” It is designed to be able to deploy within three hours and function without resupply for 48 hours. It can handle eight wounded a day and has ten beds for recovering patients. An antenna can also become the basis of a larger, more permanent structure. In contrast, a module provides only urgent critical care, after which patients must be evacuated immediately. The equipment associated with a module weighs less than a ton and can be transported by helicopter or dropped by parachute.

The French Army subscribes to the American concept of the “golden hour,” the idea that wounded soldiers need to receive critical care within an hour of receiving their injuries. In the case of Serval, French Army sources have stated that they were operating without adequate coverage to meet the golden hour standard of care. They had to make choices about how to divide medical coverage, such that an operation in one place might have adequate coverage to meet the golden hour standard while another operation going on at the same time somewhere else did not.
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Old 10-22-2014   #9
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Default Where did it mention needing more/new Chinooks?

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davidbfpo,

Where did it mention needing more/new Chinooks?

The SGTIAs are reminiscent of Marine Enhanced Company Operations/Distributed Operations, only with armored vehicles and task organization.
The quote is in a footnote (No.57) on pg.42 / 58 and it says:
Quote:
One French officer who commanded units in Serval, when asked by the author what American resources he wished he had had in Mali, answered "CH-47's".
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Old 10-22-2014   #10
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Quote:
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The quote is in a footnote (No.57) on pg.42 / 58 and it says:
Good catch. I missed that.
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Old 10-22-2014   #11
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Smitty,

If you work for the Chinook makers I will claim my fee if France buys CH-47s.
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Old 11-25-2014   #12
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Default Delaminated boot soles

They should have bought Australian combat boots. 49 degrees Celsius/120 degrees Fahrenheit ambient with 90 plus percent humidity with 60 degrees Celsius/140 degrees Fahrenheit on the tarmac and never saw any delamination.
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Old 11-25-2014   #13
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Quote:
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They should have bought Australian combat boots. 49 degrees Celsius/120 degrees Fahrenheit ambient with 90 plus percent humidity with 60 degrees Celsius/140 degrees Fahrenheit on the tarmac and never saw any delamination.
Pardon my language, but no ####?!? Is there a brand name?
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Old 05-03-2017   #14
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Default New boots, Chinooks please: French lessons for the US Army

Tactical Surprise in Small Wars: Lessons from French Wars in Afghanistan and Mali

Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-03-2017 at 11:20 AM. Reason: 22,791v Copied as relevant to thread, re-opened to do so.
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Old 06-30-2017   #15
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I don't think this has been posted before. It is a hour long official French military video of Operation Serval:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO3iXNtLkug

Curiously a Belgian military medical contribution is referred to, but when a RAF C-17 Globemaster is shown being unloaded, not a word. Ah well.
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