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Europeans are preparing to settle in the Bouar military training camp (V2)

(B2) Specialists from the United Nations force (MINUSCA) and the European force (EUTM RCA) established in the Central African Republic (CAR) have completed a study of the Bouar site which will constitute a second point of support for the Europeans after Bangui.

Joint EUTM-Minusca visit to the Bouar site (Credit: EUTM Rca)

The first landline outside Bangui

This will be the first 'permanent post' established outside the Central African capital of the European mission. A request from Bangui but also a strategic necessity. Around forty French people could be deployed there, in liaison with the French elements in Gabon, for the training team. This is one of the specialties of the EFT which has trained or trained several African troops (from Cameroon, Gabon, Chad, G5 Sahel, Central Africa, etc.). To make this deployment operational, it remains to find the medical support element (role 2) which was not yet completely certain in December. A new tour of the Member States has been started to provide these elements.

Do not allow a vacuum to be created for the benefit of the Russians

« You don't have to drag and let a void which others could benefit from “, a European official told B2. The 'others' are the Russians, already installed near Bouar, where they are consolidating their hold, by installing their own landing strip (different from the airport runway which was renovated by Minusca) . “ We must therefore be ready to meet the demand of Central Africans ". The renovated center will allow both EUTM RCA and Minusca to complete the training and training of the FACA, the Central African armed forces.

The return to a military tradition

The choice of Bouar is not made at random. This city located on a vital axis, linking Cameroon to the Central African capital Bangui, has always played a strategic role, and has a long military tradition. The training center, formerly called Camp Leclerc, played a historic role for decades, before and after independence. From 1981, after Operation Barracuda intended to overthrow President (dictator) Bokassa, it housed the French elements of operational and technical assistance (EFAO) responsible for rebuilding the Central African army. This until 1998 (1). The departure of the French was recorded in 1997 by the decision of Paris to reduce its African influence, by refocusing them on a few strong points, notably in Chad, in the center of Africa, within the framework of an agreement with the government Central African Republic led by Ange-Félix Patassé (2).

A center partially rehabilitated in 2017

The Military Training Center (CIM) recently underwent partial rehabilitation, completed in May 2017. Carried out with the support of Minusca, it notably enabled the rehabilitation of three classrooms, five dormitories , a hospital ward, a building for intensive care and maternity (read here) (3). This is the second rehabilitation of a military site undertaken by the United Nations mission after that of Camp Kassai in Bangui.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. On French operations in the Central African Republic, we must read with interest the study carried out by Florent Saint-Victor, “ 45 years of French military operations in the Central African Republic », published by the CDEF, Force Employment Doctrine Center, December 2013.
  2. A decision which consecrates the divorce between Paris and Bangui according to Jean Guisnel. Read " The retreat of the colonial », Le Point, April 1998.
  3. At the same time, several civil structures, notably the city's administrative building, were renovated with the support of the European Union.

Updated 1.1.2019: details on the use of the Bouar center by EUTM RCA and Minusca and on the airstrip used by the Russians.

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).