Central Southern AfricaMissions Operations

Central African Republic. The Europeans are coming, a little… (Maj2)

loading armored vehicles (credit: French Ministry of Defence)
loading armored vehicles (credit: French Ministry of Defence)

(BRUSSELS2 – exclusive) The United Kingdom with its C-17 will have been the first and fastest alongside France to provide assistance in strategic transport logistics. An effort from London that must be saluted because it is for the moment the only one but which must also be put into perspective. Because this beautiful gesture also hides a stab in the back.

Planes but no ground forces

A few days before, David Cameron's government had, in fact, literally torpedoed the sending of a battlegroup (European battle group). The idea was put forward by the European Diplomatic Service. The British pulled the plug and reduced the initiative to ashes. There is no question of having a British soldier on Central African soil. And an additional intervention. As for the services of the High Representative, also British, Lady Ashton, we are obviously remaining discreet about this fiery descent. But it is a reality that must be taken into account today in Europe. When the United Kingdom takes its turn in a European battlegroup, it will remain on the ground. London wants to show its solidarity, to be active militarily, alongside other Europeans, possibly, but bilaterally, or even multilaterally. He intends to keep his full freedom of action and, above all, without having a star-spangled flag covering him.

Other European countries could come to support the French. But there are not many of them. Because several of them still have to cope with the withdrawal from Afghanistan. And others are very involved in the Philippines. With the end of the year, the “budgeters” frown as soon as we talk about an external operation.

Sustained aid from Germany

THEGermany should constitute the most notable European contribution. And this “very quickly”. Defense Minister De Maizières confirmed this in a telephone conversation with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, today (December 9). Strategic means of transport (Airbus A310 type) will be made available to bring materials and/or men to N'Djamena (Chad) or Libreville (Gabon). Germany would also have offered refueling tankers. But, unlike in Mali, where the Serval operation was “greedy” in supply tankers, due to the numerous surveillance raids and bombings by fighter planes, the configuration of the operation in the Central African Republic is completely different and this offer was not not been accepted, for the moment. (update) The German Chancellor confirmed on Wednesday (December 11) the provision of a transport plane for medical evacuation purposes (Medevac).

To those who sneer..., it must be remembered that although it came quite late, German support for the Serval operation in Mali was significant: almost 2000 flight hours, or at least around 20 million euros. This is not the amount committed by France for OPEX. But that’s still less!

Three countries in the starting blocks

La Belgium should follow – the government has yet to decide but these planes could fly to Bangui. L'Spain think about it seriously too. A new country could emerge. The Poland, which has tactical transport aircraft C-130, could make them available to the Sangaris operation, without really caveat. Which is very useful. Warsaw is considering going further, even, and engaging some land elements. We remember that the two Polish and French ministers recently signed an agreement for the training of special forces. If this (air) commitment were confirmed, it would be a notable effort. The country is not used to playing on African terrain. The only exception dates from 2008 when Warsaw committed a battalion to the EUFOR Chad operation.

Americans in limited support

The United States confirmed this Monday (December 9) through the spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense, their participation, limited for the moment. Chuck Hagel, the Minister of Defense, thus promised Jean-Yves Le Drian the provision of C-17 planes from US Africom which will transport the African soldiers of MISCA from Burundi to the Central African Republic. (Maj2) Two C-17 Globemaster IIIs arrived in Burundi on Thursday morning to transport a light infantry battalion. And the United States confirmed the release of an additional $60 million for Misca and transport, or $100 million.

Other countries have been tested: Denmark – usual support for “at risk” operations – is very busy with Afghanistan. L'Italy has budget problems and is concerned about her internal political situation, " complex ". The Netherlands reflect.

(Updates) 11 Dec. and 12 Dec.

Read also:

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).

Comments closed.