J & S Franklin Ltd2018-12-22 10:32:41
The Builders of the Desert - Operation Barkhane
From the outset of the security crisis in the Sahel, France has been strongly committed to blocking terrorism. In January 2013, France took action in northern Mali via Operation Serval to prevent al-Qaeda-affiliated groups from taking control of the country. Since then, French operations, which include some 4,500 soldiers, were regionalized under Operation Barkhane, providing essential support to the G5 Sahel countries; Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in their actions to fight terrorist armed groups.
The Sahel is made up of many African countries, from East to West Africa, from Dakar to Djibouti.
The Sahel was faced with an increasing threat from terrorism and organised crime, which was destabilizing the region. To address this situation, two initiatives were set up, The G5 Sahel Cross-Border Joint Force which was launched in July 2017, by the presidents of the five states of Sahel. This joint force has been endorsed by the African Union, sanctioned by the UN Security Council and is sponsored by France. It’s mandate is to combat terrorism, transnational organized crime and human trafficking in the G5 Sahel region.
At full capacity, the Joint Force comprises some 5,000 troops, 7 battalions spread over 3 zones, the West, the Centre and the East, and covers around 50km on each side of the country’s borders, equating to some 5million km2 of desert area.
The second initiative is the Sahel Alliance. The founding members are France, Germany, EU, World Bank, African Development Bank and UNDP. This initiative is a mechanism for strengthening the coordination among partners and providing more rapid, more effective and better targeted assistance, as and when it is needed. The five key sectors are;
• Youth employability - education and training,
• Agriculture – rural development and food security
• Energy and climate
• Decentralization and support for the deployment of basic services.
This modern war would be impossible to win without a network of camps capable of holding the equipment and materials for the 5000+ troops and of course the troops themselves.
This is where the French Army Defence Infrastructure Service (Service d'infrastructure de la Défense – SID) comes into its own.
In hostile environments, in 50 degree plus heat, and from the middle of an empty desert, this specialized unit designs, builds and operates complex camps, containing; hospitals, highly computerized command posts, accommodation, fuel and ammunition storage and all the infrastructure necessary for modern combatants including water treatment plants.
Speed is very much of the essence when building these camps. In just 6 months a camp of some 500 military personnel, with the infrastructure of a small village but conforming to operational requirements is in operation.
When designing and building the camp the SID always consider the threat protection aspect of the exterior and in the case of camps in Sahel, the one source that is plentiful is… sand, gravel and rocks, making one supplier of the SID perfect for this type of operation; DefenCell.
J & S Franklin’s DefenCell MAC is a rapid to deploy barrier system engineered from geotextile lined welded mesh gabions. Filled on site with earth, sand or other locally available material, DefenCell MAC units form defensive structures and barriers to protect personnel and infrastructure against a wide range of ballistic threats and hostile vehicles as well as floods and storms.
The Service d'infrastructure de la Défense has to adapt to the ever-changing situation of this modern-day war. They have to manage the complexity of a camp that can increase from 500 and 1800 personnel in just four years, and so the whole camp must be re-thought, borders extended, and all the necessary infrastructure required to accommodate this increase in personnel.
In the Gao Base in Mail, the SID has built the biggest munitions depot ever built in OPEX. The design of the ammunition storage was far from simple, as not only did the ammunition need to be protected from an outside attack but also from any possible kinetic energy released in one container that could detonate any of the other containers. The final storage solution was that the five containers of ammunition are now housed under walls and roofs of DefenCell MAC protective welded mesh metal gabions. There are now nearly 70 thousand kilos of ammunition fortified and safely stored thanks to the Service d'infrastructure de la Défense and J & S Franklin’s DefenCell MAC.
Jeremy Milton of J & S Franklin said, “Working with French Armed Forces for many years, both directly and through NSPA, and in fact over the last two years alone we have delivered over 4 million euros worth of DefenCell MAC to them.”
For more information contact:
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