The French deployment continues: 1800 soldiers, to date, on the ground Mali. In total, 2,700 French troops are now involved in the operation Serval (device Hawk Chad, headquarters in Dakar, Licorne in Côte d'Ivoire ...). While African forces arrive gradually. Those of ECOWAS (which include strength MISMA four battalions of 500 soldiers), whose staff is already in Bamako 80 armed soldiers.
Finally those Chadian: a total of 2000 trained soldiers will be sent by N'Djamena: 150 Chadians have arrived in Niamey, Niger.
In parallel, in Bamako, GAM (Airmobile Group) is gaining momentum with 15 helicopters (1st and 5th RHC), the last-born French helicopter gunships, Tiger.
A surgical unit is already deployed to Bamako, capable of carrying a dozen operations per day.
Ground fighting imply for the moment that the Malian army, who has just resumed Konna. No French forces are involved so far to combat actions. Except of course special forces. Obviously, no information filter their actions ... But they fulfill two missions: "They liaise between Malian and French armies come and support if necessary" stated tonight Colonel Thierry Burkhard, spokesman for the General Staff Armed Forces (EMA). To this we can add the main mission of Special Forces: intelligence. And it is fundamental in a theater of operation as large and faced with an enemy so mobile.
Because in combat actions, the jihadists will not have it. And they are well aware. Their advantage is surprise. They proved it with the attack on the "West Zone" to Diabali. And this is most likely a race war that will install. The enemy, not having the advantage of firepower, should move from one place to another. In military terms, this is called a "rocker effort." In contact with the French forces, the rebels quickly décrocheront to attack farther to another location. Toyota is in this role formidable.
Special forces, if they are to make some contact actions targeted remain essentially there to intelligence. More precisely to validate the information on the ground. This is vital, especially in Mali, where the extent of the territory and mobility terrorist forces call for vigilance.
It is essential to provide these "scales of effort" of the enemy, so that the regular forces prepare to counter them. Then bring in the cavalry firepower and infantry. Thus, the extent of the territory said that Mali is the theater that supports the largest deployment of French special forces never engaged (the number would exceed 200 soldiers).
French special forces have two main vehicles: VRLA (Light Vehicle Recognition and Support) and VPS (Vehicle Patrol Special), P4 and some winded changed. While VLRA plays Mule (or rather camel), VPS him greyhound.
The VRLA (1500 vehicles in service in the French army which about 200 special forces), is a robust vehicle and rustic. Simple, it has a very high capacity crossing and is ideal for theaters and African deserts. Bit fast (90 km / h) but offers almost inexhaustible autonomy with strong payload (munitions, water tanks ...). It allows long-term commitment. Its very sturdy frame allows the carriage of weapons up to 20 mm.
VPS is a fast vehicle, but it fragile. Its 180 horsepower engine can propel it to speeds well beyond the limits (180 km / h). 51 of these vehicles are in service in the special forces. Some have been equipped since 2005, as part of Operation Sabre, rotary Gatling gun, significantly increasing their firepower. It also has "claws of fire" to shoot from the rear of the Milan anti-tank missiles. The missile range is 2 km from filo-guided, ie it must be guided to its target by the shooter. Formidable precision, maximum exposure. And be able to draw power from the vehicle away from its mean position very quickly.
Various arms are attached to these vehicles FS: from 7.62 mm to 12.7 mm or 20 mm (shooting fast and accurate but sensitive to sand ...). Also in service in those forces, the 81 mm equipment and especially the night visions very effective (especially JIM LR). Special Forces are capable of doing for guiding air strikes from the ground (JTAC).
But remember, special forces do not have the ability to survive fire, it is not their role. Their vehicles are not protected. Regarding offensive capabilities and impact resistance, the role of cavalry and infantry.
For face, jihadists have 4X4 Toyota or Nissan which various arms of Russian origin were arranged: ZPU 14.5 mm or 23 mm ZSU, bi or quadritube, arms originally designed to make air defense. But used against infantry or armored vehicles very well, the damage is insured. Effective but very accurate up to 2000 meters, these templates are also sensitive to sand and dust. Not to mention the RPG rocket cons formidable armor. Arms well known French but still very dangerous.