Small Wars Journal

Retreat, discontent, and misunderstanding: France in Afghanistan

Retreat, discontent, and misunderstanding: France in Afghanistan

by Stéphane Taillat

Foreign Policy

BLUF. The last two days have been murderous for the French contingent in Afghanistan; four paratroopers were killed in a suicide attack in the Surobi district, while a Special Forces soldier was killed during operations in the Alasay Valley, in the province of Kapisa.

The timing of these incidents was hardly accidental: The goal was to strike France and its army during the commemoration of the national and military holiday that is the "14 Juillet" known as Bastille Day in the Anglophone world. But these deaths also illustrate the growing engagement of French units in Afghanistan in more intense kinetic operations. The reconquest of Kapisa, a particularly sensitive region situated on a strategic axis and marked by 30 years of war, has been a particularly costly and difficult task, one that has required French forces to put into practice their tactical knowledge and understanding of "contre-insurrection" or what Americans call COIN.

Much more at Foreign Policy


Nicholas Klacsanzky (not verified)

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 7:01pm

I thought I was in the loop with what was happening with the Afghan War, but I didn't even know that French soldiers were active in the struggle. Even though the The Kite Runner and Afghan Hearts & Minds help us to understand what's going on, these articles help us tremendously as well.

Anonymous (not verified)

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 8:54am

This article de fond could have very well been written by an American and titled the same.

Toujours Fidele

Dom (not verified)

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 8:08am

I am French and half in agreement with your comment. But since we are here, that we have an open mind to understand the asymmetrical. This is also true of us "allies".
France is too politicized; in fact the army as in its highest stage is also, beyond saying that policy say by all means fight for power. So army is a political tool but also internally.
France Empire in the world is far, but some are struggling not to believe it. She was also traumatized by the world wars profound ways since few families have not been directly affected, saying that even the dramatic end of its colonial empire.
The French by the media still thought that everything is going wrong in France for years (late 60s), and this is not the result of politicians but of other countries in the world...
The last thing France is 65.0 million, 547,030 square kilometers, an army of 112,880 people. The U.S. is (hopefully not be wrong!) More than 311 million inhabitants, 9,629,048 square kilometers and for the period 2011-2015 an active army of 547,000 soldiers. Everything is smaller in France and each resource becomes more important unconsciously.


Fri, 07/15/2011 - 6:06am

This I thought was the telling sentence in the article: ' can be explained by the fact that France no longer remembers the purpose of its army'.

A viewpoint that appears sometimes on SWC when we look backwards.

Dom (not verified)

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 2:03am

Just a small correction, There Was Five killed the first day and the second one Other.
to Understand What Will Happen, We Have To Do not Forget That France Will Have its presidential election next year and the French media do not cover and support the war in Afghanistan for years Properly. Add the crisis in Europe and you have a picture of what might happen.