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French Military Starts Second Phase of OEF Support

By Capt. Géry Balcerski
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2006 – The French military started its second phase of air operations in Afghanistan on May 26.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
During "Operation Serpentaire," a French Navy Super Etendard flies over southern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. French air operations are in their second phase, which started May 26 and runs till October. Courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Dubbed "Operation Serpentaire," for Serpent-Eater, French aviators have performed close-air support and tactical reconnaissance missions supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force. This phase of the operation will support coalition efforts until October.

A contingent of 21 French servicemembers here have coordinated French air assets over Afghanistan as part of Combined Joint Task Force 76.

In its first phase, from May 5-25, the French carrier air group, based at Camp Cherry-Beasley here since April 8, participated in both OEF and ISAF missions. They performed about 7 percent of OEF missions.

This phase ended with the departure of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle from the Indian Ocean on May 25 and the arrival of French air force fighters in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Aircraft departing from the Charles de Gaulle flew 500 miles with four mid-air refuelings en route to their areas in the Kandahar and Uruzgan regions of southern Afghanistan.

In addition to the Bagram French Detachment, French teams are also stationed in Kabul and southern regions of Afghanistan as well as at a base of operations in Southwest Asia.

(French Capt. Géry Balcerski is assigned to the French Air Force Detachment Bagram.)

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Related Sites:
Combined Joint Task Force 76
International Security Assistance Force

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