Influence of French Air Power Strategy in the European Union's Military Operations in Africa (2003-2009)
Air University School of Advanced Air and Space Studies Maxwell AFB United States
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Between the 1960s and the 2000s, France developed specific ways to operate on the African continent, and the use of air power became a central element of French strategy in limited operations. During that period, France also got involved in the European construction, and played a leading role in the military part of it. At the end of the 1990s, the European Union EU countries launched the European Security and Defense Policy ESDP. Under this aegis, between 2003 and 2009, the EU launched three autonomous military operations in Africa Artemis 2003 and EUFOR RD Congo 2006 in Democratic Republic of Congo and EUFOR TchadRCA 20082009 in the Republic of Chad and in the Central African Republic.The aim of this analysis is to understand how French experience influenced the EU use of air power in order to reveal air powers strengths and weaknesses, and improve its potential effectiveness during subsequent operations. Using a case study methodology, this paper first establishes a model of the French use of air power in Africa during its limited operations, and then compares it to the use of air power in the three EU operations.The study spans three levels of analysis. At the political level, France developed the concept of Air Power Diplomacy. French leaders used the political impact of air power as a diplomatic tool. At the strategic military level, the French military was able to translate this will in an effective way because political and military leaders designed an effective organization. At the operational and tactical levels, the French model emphasized the use of small cells of fighter and transport aircraft, supported by C135FR as well as helicopters. The study argues that while operation Artemis was close to the French model, the two subsequent EUFOR missions showed political and operational deviations.