West Africa - SahelMissions OperationsReport

Port-Bouet, the elastic base in Africa

(BRUSSELS2 in Abidjan) La Force Licorne has existed for more than ten years now. And its location in the capital Abidjan, near the port and the airport makes it an appreciable tool. Main interest: in addition to its location, it can quickly gain strength, as we saw with the operation in Mali, where the Adibjan / Port Bouet base played an appreciable role.

Three main functions

The Unicorn Force has, in fact, three functions. Three are “local”: support for the UN forces on site (UNOCI) which, despite its more than 10.000 men, is sometimes struggling (a nice euphemism to say that its effectiveness is not measured by the number of 0 d 'men), bilateral cooperation to rebuild an Ivorian army which really needs it, and to be ready in the event of evacuation of nationals. One is external: intervention for the benefit of other theaters or regions.

An accordion format

Its format has, in fact, varied over the years, reaching 4000 people. Today, we are rather in the low stakes, with around 500 people, who are divided into 1 headquarters and 2 combat elements - 1 squadron (of 100 soldiers), 1 company (100 soldiers) - as well as a logistics company . An essential element of the system in Ivory Coast because it is the one that supports the rise in power. We do not count, here, the elements which transit to Mali or another African country.

Mobility elements

On the mobility side, we will find 1 Fennec helicopter and 1 Transall C160 (which is currently in Bamako), 6 Sagaie wheeled vehicles (ERC 90) and 30 armored vehicles (mainly VAB – armored forward vehicles). Port Bouet is a “ strategic center » invaluable as one of its managers testifies. With its 230 hectares, its 8 helicopter pads and its footprint 1 km from the airport and near the deep-water port, it allows movement by three routes: land, air, sea.

Water is an essential point. Abidjan is a lagoon city. " He who holds the bridges holds the city “says our officer. The French forces thus have a team lagoons » with canoes and motorized boat. This allows freedom of action and access to embassies and schools located on the other side, to the north of the city.

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).