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“Mission accomplished”, the Europeans return from Bangui

Returning Polish servicemen and military police (credit: MOD Poland)
Returning Polish servicemen and military police (credit: MOD Poland)

(BRUSSELS2) It is time to return for the European soldiers and gendarmes involved in the European operation EUFOR RCA. After the departure of the Polish and German detachments, which left last week, around 550 personnel remained on site. This figure should drop quickly. The Italians return this week. Then the Spanish will follow and finally the French who will remain last. “ The decline will continue ” General Pontiès told B2 in an interview (published on the Club *). " Patrols will continue until the end of the month (February). The majority of repatriations will take place in the first half of March. By mid-March, we will no longer have troops there. »

The effectiveness of a force combining police and military

For the French general who has commanded the European operation EUFOR RCA from the start, from his operation HQ based in Greece (in Larissa), success is based on several elements. “ Despite the difficulties in generating forces at the start, we succeeded in setting up a military force, balanced in its components, with a Gendarmerie force present from the start. This combination has been a valuable contribution, to deal with fighting in urban areas as well as banditry or criminality and armed movements. The events of August 20 and early October showed how important this combined (military/gendarmerie) approach to policing was. »

A first for the Polish military

For French gendarmes, or even the Spanish Guardia Civil, being involved in Africa is not entirely new... On the other hand, for Polish military police, it is a bit of a double first: on African soil (1) , and within the European gendarmerie. And the event was duly welcomed in Warsaw by the Polish Secretary of State for Defense during their return to the country on Monday (February 23). "Being side by side with the most recognized military police formations in Europe such as the French (Gendarmerie) or the Spanish Guardia Civil is a proof of respect and trust for the Polish military police on the international scene. said Beata Oczkowicz, thus welcoming the Polish detachment, led by Colonel Leon Stanoch, made up of military police and various specialists (2).

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) If I remember correctly, military police had been engaged in Chad in the first European operation EUFOR Tchad RCA in 2008. But they were then acting in their disciplinary function within the Polish contingent, and not in the first line of contact as in Bangui.

(2) The core of the Polish contingent was made up of a platoon from the Minsk Mazowiecki military police unit, reinforced with elements from the 1st Logistics Brigade from Bydgoszcz, the 6th Support Brigade from Białobrzegi, the 6th Airborne Brigade in Krakow, the General Command of the Armed Forces, the Armed Forces Inspectorate and the Foreign Mission Preparation Center in Kielce.

* Read the full interview in the Club edition of B2. General Pontiès comments on the latest incidents (kidnapping) and draws on the first feedback for European Union operations.

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).