Central Southern AfricaMissions OperationsReport

Eufor Tchad 1: above all a logistical challenge

(© NGV / B2 - all reproduction rights reserved)

(BRUSSELS2 to N’Djamena and Abéché) Sand, sun, wind... Here are the main elements especially available to the soldiers of Eufor – the European force deployed in Chad to secure the situation of some 400 Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadians following the conflict in Darfur – when they arrive on the ground.

At the start, in fact, there was "nothing or almost nothing", explains Lieutenant-Colonel Axelos of Operation Eufor. " It is necessary to drill boreholes to fetch water, to groom a camp and stabilize it, to install drainage, ditches, in anticipation of the rains, to bury the water and telephone pipes, to build dikes to protect the camp”, complete, or even create routes like in N'Djamena or Abéché.

When the Porpoises of the Marine Tank Infantry Regiment (RICM), supplemented by elements of the 11th Marine Artillery Regiment (Lande d'Ouée), arrived in mid-March, on site in Farchana, by the road, at the end of a “black cruise” of several days, the first moments were… rustic. “The first night, we woke up with several layers of dust in our mouths and on the ground,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Faguet. And “even today, conditions remain rudimentary,” explains Faguet: “under tents,” some air-conditioned, outdoor sinks, and “combat rations.” “In each platoon, a man has discovered the virtues of a cook and goes to the market to look for something to improve the ordinary. ".

real small towns

“It’s simple” explains Colonel Serge Duval, one of the “support” managers. “It’s a piece of desert on which we have to grow three small towns of 600 inhabitants and a town of 2000 inhabitants, from nothing. And everything must be finished in record time, before the rainy season in June…”, in difficult climatic conditions – heat (from 35° to 50°) and sandy winds – and security. In this operation, logistics is therefore fundamental. Everything must be transported to the site: from showers to radar, including ambulances, ammunition, part of the food and water, even cement... The French soldiers of Operation Epervier — well established, on “hard” bases near the airports of N’Djamena and Abéché — therefore lend a hand to their “European” colleagues. Every day, explains Colonel Périé, commander of “Epervier” “we have to transport 12 tonnes of freight between N'Djamena and Abéché” without counting the “reconnaissance missions per day, with Mirages F1” or the placing of helicopters on call. Puma for medical evacuations.

 

Fine accounting…

Then remains to organize the life of the camp every day, which also includes fine compatibility! As there is no European army, each State must, in fact, normally contribute for its own troops. But to avoid duplication, it is France, here again, which has been designated as the “logistics” leader. Electricity, water, food are thus re-invoiced to each national unit, in proportion to the use, explains the "mayor" of the "Europa" camp - located in N'Djamena within the enclosure of what was intended to become… a prison — Lieutenant-Colonel Villuendas. Just like in a real city...

Decided by the 27 (the 26 in fact which participate in Defense Europe since Denmark has an opt-out) Member States of the European Union, on October 15, 2007, and confirmed on January 28, 2008, the Eufor Mission officially began on March 17, 2008. It should last one year. Its mission: on mandate from the UN, to protect the work of NGOs and the 450.000 Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadians and Central Africans, because of the conflict in neighboring Darfur. 3700 European soldiers should be present in eastern Chad and the Central African Republic by the end of June. France provides half of the workforce and a majority of the logistics. But around ten other countries sent troops – mainly neutral or Eastern European countries (Ireland, Poland, Sweden and Finland, Benelux, Austria, Romania, Albania) –. And the Russians have promised helicopter reinforcements.

© Photos: Faguet “Ricm black cruise”, Ngv Camp Europa in N’Djamena.

NB – To see a photo report on the logistical difficulties of the operation: (source Eufor Tchad May 2008)

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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