Cote D’Ivoire Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 troops are deployed here under un mandate, based primarily in Abidjan. France has a defense agreement with Cote D’Ivoire

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African states with permanent French military contingents and the size of the contingent:
Cote D’Ivoire

Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 troops are deployed here under UN mandate, based primarily in Abidjan. France has a defense agreement with Cote D’Ivoire. Operation Unicorn is charged with patrolling the border zone between rebels in the north and government-controlled area in the south. Cote d’Ivoire is France’s largest and most controversial operation in Africa.


1,200 – 1,300 soldiers and aircraft including a squadron of Mirage fighters. France claims that Operation Sparrowhawk is only entails logistical support, but French special forces could be engaging rebels directly. In June 2004, France did publicly commit to sending 200 soldiers to the border of Sudan to engage rebels there. The troops are tasked with supporting the Chadian government. All aircraft are based at an airfield at Hadji Kossei near the capital, N’Djamena. Force in cludes 6 Mirage F-1s, three C-160 Transall cargo planes, a C-135 Stratolifter, an ATL2 Atlantique reconaissance plane, several Puma helicopters and ERC 90 armored vehicles. The Mirage F-1s struck rebels north of Birao, CAR in March, 2007.

Central African Republic

Operation Boali is part of a multinational force to bring stability to CAR, and from there the region. The deployment includes 300 – 500 troops, plus fighters, helicopters and including special forces. Officially troops are based in Bangui, but reports of helicopter use far from Bangui in the Northwest and Northeast seems to dispute this claim. France denies engaging rebel forces directly, but this is also dubious. Mirage F-1s based in Chad struck rebel positions north of Birao in March 2007. A small contingent of French troops has been in Birao since December, ostensibly for training.


Soldiers and transport aircraft are stationed here to support operations in Cote d’Ivoire.

Border between Eritrea and Ethiopia

deployed as part of the UN mission to monitor the border until the two states can agree on where it is and demarcate it.


Libreville, about 700 soldiers, access to an airfield. Three fighters were deployed here in 2004 and put on standby following an attack on French forces by Ivoirian air force in Abidjan. Troops were dispatched from here to CAR in 2003 to bolster Bozize’s fledgling government.


Dakar, about 1,500.


Around 3,000 troops stationed here.


Peacekeeping school has trained over 800 officers.

Reunion Island

About 4,000 soldiers. France sometimes flies recon missions using C-160s based here. They would also be used to drop paratroopers stationed at Reunion Island.

Past engagements / special deployments


2004 Aug. - mobilized air transport for relief operations in Sudan. The planes and personnel were based in Chad.


2003 June - 700 troops, including 130 special forces sent to control the area around Bunia in the face of mounting rival Hema Lendu militia activity. The

French forces were the first contingent of an EU force of 1,400. This deployment came immediately after the institution of a new constitution, and the final withdrawal of Ugandan forces.

2006 850 troops sent to oversee elections as part of an EU mission led by Germany, which will contribute 780 troops.


2006 July - Dec. – Special Forces, fighter bombers and helicopters sent to put down UFDR rebellion.


2004 June - deployed 200 soldiers to bolster 1,000 soldiers already in place to help secure Sudan border and bring humanitarian relief to Darfur refugees in


2006 April - Chirac maintains troops in Chad, but says that they will not intervene in Sudan. French forces likely attacked rebel groups, though France claims they just fired warning shots.

Cote D’Ivoire

2002 October – sent 70 paratroopers to bolster existing 650-soldier contingent

December - bolstered existing contingent with 150 paratroopers and hundreds other soldiers following rebel advances.

2004 clashed with troops and mobs. Launched an airstrike against Ivoirian troops following an Ivoirian airstrike on French peacekeeper positions that destroyed airplanes and helicopters and killed 10 French soldiers.

2006 about 4,000 French soldiers in Cote d’Ivoire.
Past problems in countries where France has soldiers deployed:

Sudan – need I say more? But the only French operation there thus far was a relief mission.

DRC - The French were important in 2003 in restoring peace following Ugandan and Rwandan incursions, as well as competing militias. The elections probably would not have been as smooth in 2006 if the EU force had not been there. However, there is now renewed fighting between government forces and the loser of the 2006 election, Jean-Pierre Bemba. The presence of French forces helped while they were deployed, but once gone, militancy rose.

CAR – French forces prevented rebels from annexing the eastern third of the country and much of the country’s diamond mines and mining infrastructure along with it.

Chad – French forces in Chad are maintained primarily to make deployments to the rest of Africa easier. The 200 soldiers sent to patrol the Sudanese border probably contributed little.

Cote D’Ivoire – Since 2000, there have been 2 coups (2000, 2002), one failed coup (Jan. 2001) and one attempted assassination of the president (2003). There have been many other incidents involving ethnic warfare, political violence and rebel groups. The French only intervene when the war threatens French nationals, when rebels threaten to take over the whole country or when French forces are attacked. Cote d’Ivoire would probably be a bit worse off without the French.


1 - About 36,000 French troops are deployed overseas, including 13,000 participating in peace-keeping operations:

    • Lebanon: Since mid-July 2006, France has maintained a naval task force off the coast of Lebanon (4 major ships), as well as 2 tactical transport aircraft and some 15 helicopters operating from Cyprus, to conduct non-combatant evacuation operations. To date, approximately 14,000 people, including 3,000 non-French citizens, have been evacuated by this force of roughly 1,700 French soldiers. Since the beginning of August, this force has also conducted several logistical missions in support of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), as well as helping diplomats and political authorities travel from Cyprus to Beirut. This force, responding to a French chain of command, will stay in the area as long as deemed necessary.

As for UNIFIL, which is presently headed by a French general, France has, to date, contributed 250 troops, and another 150 will be in Lebanon by the beginning of next week. On August 24, French President Chirac agreed to send 1,600 more French troops – for a total of 2,000 -- to bolster the UN contingent in Lebanon.

    • Afghanistan: with 1,900 French troops, France is one of the major partners of the United States in Afghanistan. French contributions include troops deployed to the International Security Assistance Force (13% of ISAF), training of the Afghan National Army, Operation Enduring Freedom on the ground (Special Forces), at sea (3 frigates and 1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft), and in the air (6 fighter aircraft, 1 tanker and 2 transport aircraft). Periodically, fighter aircraft are also deployed in the region, with an air tanker, to offer close air support to ISAF and OEF ground troops. Mirage 200D strike aircraft, and Mirage F1CR reconnaissance and bomber aircraft, are presently based in Tajikistan until autumn 2006, in order to support both the NATO Troops, who are gradually expanding the area of operations into southern Afghanistan, as well as US-led coalition forces, including French special forces, who have been hunting the Taliban and Al Qaida remnants since 2001.

    • Indian Ocean: CVN Charles de Gaulle carrier battle group had been again deployed in international waters off Pakistan, throughout the month of May 2006, in support of ISAF and OEF in neighboring Afghanistan. Referred to as Task Force 473, it includes six ships, including one British frigate, 24 Rafales, Super Etendards and Hawkeye aircraft, and some 3,000 Navy personnel.

As the second contributor to Operation Enduring Freedom, the French Navy is also deploying two frigates as part of Task Force 150, an international maritime force responsible for fighting terrorism in the northern Indian Ocean. It is made up of ten ships from eight countries, among them the United States, Great Britain, Pakistan, Germany and France. Its mission is to monitor the air and sea spaces within its zone of responsibility (Red Sea, Sea of Oman, Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf) and to prevent terrorists’ exfiltration from Afghanistan to the Arabian Peninsula or the Horn of Africa. Its purpose is also to disrupt armament and illegal drug trafficking, as well as piracy. TF150 has also been entrusted with the protection of the oil production facilities since September 2004. TF 150 has been regularly commanded by French admirals.

France also contributes to TF57 with a maritime patrol aircraft and deploys one frigate within TF 318 under British command.

    • Ivory Coast: France has had for years a permanent military presence in Ivory Coast, under the terms of a defense agreement with that country. In the fall of 2002, under the terms of a United Nations resolution, France deployed around 4,000 troops to protect foreign civilians and prevent a civil war. After the deployment of a UN peace keeping force (ONUCI) and a new resolution of the UNSC, their current mission consists of protecting non-combatant foreigners and supporting UN forces in charge of monitoring the ceasefire and assisting the parties in undertaking DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration);

    • Kosovo : with 2,100 personnel, France is the third largest contributor to this NATO operation, after Germany and Italy;

    • Bosnia-Herzegovina : 400 French troops are deployed under the EU flag of mission Althea ;

    • Africa :1,300 troops in Chad and 200 in the Central AfricanRepublic contribute by their presence, at the invitation of both governments, to the stability of these countries and to the training of their armed forces for peace-keeping operations;

    • Darfur, Sudan: to address the humanitarian crisis, France mobilized military transport capabilities in Chad (airplanes, helicopters) for humanitarian relief operations. French aircraft ferried 700 tons of humanitarian aid at a cost of about $2.2 million. In addition, 200 French troops in Chad contributed to the stabilization of the Chad/Sudan border through patrols in Chad and along the border between the two countries. Furthermore, French F-1 Mirages, stationed with French troops in Chad, carry out frequent reconnaissance missions on the Chadian side of the Chad-Sudan border. Two French Army officers are part of the Abeche monitoring team, and two more French army officers are working with the African Union (AU) planning unit in Addis Ababa.

    • In July 2006, France sent 700 troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of an E.U. military mission to help maintain peace during elections. These troops will spend 4 months in that country to support the 17,000 U.N. soldiers currently stationed there as peace-keepers. France heads the operations on site in Kinshasa, while the overall mission is under German command based in Postdam.

    • Other Multinational Peacekeeping Operations: 700 French military and police observers, staff or support personnel are deployed in Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Kosovo, Haiti, Western Sahara, the Sinai, Israel, Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Liberia, the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Burundi, Bosnia Herzegovina, and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia.

    • French military assistance for Hurricane Katrina relief in September 2005: As part of the French assistance, France’s Armed Forces sent troops and equipment for the relief of injured persons in connection with Hurricane Katrina. On September 6, 2005, two military aircraft Casa 235 (based in Martinique -French West Indies) landed in Little Rock, Arkansas, carrying a French Disaster Assistance Assessment Team, tents, tarps and MRE (meals ready to eat). On September 11, 2005, a C-135 from Istres AFB ferried to Pensacola a 17 EOD team (explosive ordnance divers) in order to contribute to the rehabilitation of port facilities, dock clearance and obstacle removals. Their mission lasted until September 26, 2005.

    • Earthquake in Pakistan October 8, 2005: the French Armed Forces participated in the rescue of the populations in Pakistan, with the deployment of a first aid medical center and surgical facilities, as well as the transport of UN humanitarian freight from Turkey. Less than 24 hours after the earthquake struck India and Pakistan in the Kashmir area, a C135 FR of the Strategic Air Forces ferried the French first aid to Islamabad airport: 25 persons from the state-financed civilian rescue organization, two teams of dog handlers and 14 cubic meters of equipment. On October 10, a surgical unit was deployed with 41 civilian emergency medicine personnel and 18 military doctors. On their return to France on November 11, most of their equipment was given away to Pakistani medical services.

 France activated the air component of NRF5 (NATO Response Force 5), in compliance with the decision of the North Atlantic Council of October 11, 2005. Over 60 French troops were involved in the command and deployment of the air component in Taverny (France), Ramstein (Germany), Incirlick (Turkey), Lisbon (Portugal) and Islamabad (Pakistan). Two C 130 tactical aircraft have participated since October 21 in daily airlifts between Incirlik (Turkey) and Islamabad (Pakistan) to convey humanitarian freight gathered by the UN in Turkey. On November 3, the NRF air component deployed a GHF (Ground handling facilities) in Lahore (400km from Islamabad): this French Air Force and Army team was tasked with facilitating the ground transit of the aid convoyed by the NRF.

On October 19, 2005, in Bahrain, FS VAR, the flagship of the Commander, Task Force 150, transferred several tons of food supplies to the USS Cleveland (amphibious transport dock ship) for transport to Pakistan.

Source: < >

Past Interventions Timeline

Cote D’Ivoire 2002
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