Ambush in Afghanistan: a report highlights the responsibilities of the staff


The reconnaissance operation during which ten French soldiers died in an ambush in Afghanistan on August 18 was poorly prepared, according to a report by a French intelligence cell deployed with NATO in Kabul, including Le Canard enchaîné publishes excerpts, Wednesday, September 3. This highly critical document was written the day after the fighting by the Frenic (French National Intelligence Cell), for the attention of the military intelligence directorate and the army staff. Its authors paint a disturbing picture of the state of preparation of the French troops, and distill some harsh comments on the military hierarchy.

On August 18, the French infantry, slowed down by “the heaviness of their bulletproof vests”, climb on foot towards the pass where the insurgents await them. At 3:30 p.m., “the trap” closes and the shooting begins, according to the intelligence officers’ account. According to their report, the “surrounded” soldiers very quickly run out of ammunition, while “the insurgents seem to have huge reserves of ammunition” and place them under heavy fire. Ammunition reinforcements will only arrive after two and forty hours of combat.

Rarely, the intelligence officers shell out their report with more or less scathing comments: “Is it normal for professionals engaging in an in-depth reconnaissance operation lasting several days (which is moreover in a convoy) to run out of ammunition? from the first clash?”, they wonder. “Is it conceivable that such a large reconnaissance (reconnaissance) operation (a hundred men in 2 sections of the French army and 2 sections of the Afghan national army) would not be provided with collective means of support? ?” Or again: “How can such operations be allowed to take place on this terrain without a minimum of observation and surveillance ahead of advancing units?”

Le Canard enchaîné, which had already reported on August 27 of “unpreparedness” in the operation, triggering the anger of the Minister of Defense, Hervé Morin, revels in the comment which closes the report: “The local population calls ‘the chamber pots’ (Afghan) authorities put in place by Westerners (…). Do we have a vocation to be targets in the service of chamber pots?”


The weekly affirms again that four French soldiers were “captured by the insurgents” before being executed, as it revealed on August 27, despite the denials of the general staff according to which all French soldiers killed “have fallen as fighters in a combat phase”. Le Canard relies, to support its statements, on “confidences collected from the relatives of dead or injured soldiers”, as well as on a document from the general staff of the armies written in Paris after the ambush. The mention “bodies found lined up” thus appears four times in the margin of a table listing the 31 soldiers (10 dead, 21 wounded) put out of action during the ambush. If the newspaper evokes several hypotheses that could explain this “staging”, it sees in it in any case the proof that “the Taliban had, for a time, of several French soldiers, dead or alive”. “Beyond the horror stories circulating, the testimonies agree: not all French people died instantly. The boss of the armies (…) served a version that does not hold water, even within the armies”, concludes the Duck.

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