Thursday, December 18, 2008

The French Don't Like to Fight and other Truths About Afghanistan

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 12:21 PM

click to enlarge fench_20snipers.jpg

I just got back from the war and over the next few days will be sharing some stories, anecdotes, etc, about my time there.

I'd like to start with this little tidbit: According to soldiers that I spoke with, the French army still isn't all that partial to fighting.

Time and again I heard stories of French soldiers coming under fire while working with U.S. forces and just hightailing it out of the battle zone. My favorite story comes from a 1st Lt. with the 101st Airborne who was on a mission in the deadly Wardack province, west of Kabul. His unit was working with some French soldiers, who led the convoy of Humvees and MRAPs down a narrow, rutted, one lane road through a valley. Taliban ambushed the column, bringing heavy fire--though not inflicting any damage--to the lead vehicles manned by the French.

The French, rather than getting out and fighting or driving through to safety, tried to pull a u-turn(!), nearly colliding with the U.S. vehicles behind them.

"I almost shot them myself," said the lieutenant. "We were trapped because the French vehicles were now facing the wrong way. Meanwhile, one of our vehicles in the rear had been hit, so couldn't move."

The lieutenant called in air support, which gave him time to sort out the vehicles and get moving again. You can bet, however, that he wasn't calling on Mirage pilots to bail him out.

I have heard dozens of stories like this. I admit that I never saw them in action, and the French soldiers that I met were all friendly. Still, it's hard to take any warrior seriously who wears a hat like this. That link will take you to a photo captioned as: "French ISAF soldiers try to catch a goat for vaccination." Maybe they should just stick to that kind of stuff.

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