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France's War in Mali

France's War in Mali: Lessons for an Expeditionary Army

Michael Shurkin
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 66
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  • Book Info
    France's War in Mali
    Book Description:

    This report discusses the 2013 French Army operations in Mali (Operation Serval) to provide a model for an expeditionary force that has attributes and competencies the United States Army seeks. The French demonstrated that they are adept at fielding small yet capable forces tailored for specific objectives and reiteratively task organizing as the situation evolves. They also have a culture and force structure geared for expeditionary operations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8950-2
    Subjects: History, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Summary
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    In February 2013, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno presented his vision of the future of the Army in an article inForeign Affairs, along with the more official 2013 Army Strategic Planning Guidance.¹ The Army, Odierno noted, had changed significantly as a result of a decade of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It needed, in effect, to be recentered. The top priority was restoring the Army’s conventional capabilities and retaining its value as a deterrent associated with its unique ability to deploy and sustain indefinitely large formations capable of defeating any adversary. However, in light of changes...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Operation Serval
    (pp. 5-26)

    The insurrection that broke out in January 2012 was led by a new Tuareg nationalist group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (Mouvement national de libération de l’Azawad; MNLA). Although the insurrection is often blamed on the spillover from the unrest in Libya and a new wave of returning Libyan Army veterans, the importance of the Libyan factor is probably overstated and may have only precipitated events.¹ Arms taken from Libyan depots no doubt helped the rebels, but the area was already awash in small arms, and rebel successes against Malian Army positions meant that a large portion...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Discussion
    (pp. 27-44)

    On display in Mali in January through April 2013 was an expeditionary force that in a number of ways exemplified General Odierno’s vision of the future force. The most obvious relevant attributes of the French Army in Mali are the small size of the deployment and its practice of task organizing using the SGTIA as a basic, scalable building block, one that locates a great deal of autonomy and initiative with captains. Less obvious is a technological backbone designed to foster coordination and ensure overmatch at all levels, but above all at the lower echelons. Finally, the French, by virtue...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Conclusions
    (pp. 45-46)

    Operation Serval provides an example of how a technologically sophisticated army organizes and fields an expeditionary force that exhibits many of the traits outlined by General Raymond Odierno in his vision of the future force. As we have seen, the French Army in Mali operated using small, scalable, and task-organized combined arms forces (SGTIAs) and built them up or folded them into larger, scalable formations (GTIAs). These formed and re-formed on the fly as operational needs evolved. Moreover, the French organized themselves in this matter by doctrine and practice. They train to do this. They also located the smaller SGTIAs...

  12. References
    (pp. 47-52)