2e REP: A South African fighting in Mali

In January 2020, several companies of the Foreign Legion’s 2e REP arrived in Africa’s Sahel region to reinforce French troops in their fight against local terrorist groups. Between these paratroopers, a legionnaire from South Africa.

Legionnaire Willem (first name, surnames are forbidden to publish by the French Army now), 22-year old, he joined the French Foreign Legion in May 2017. After his four-month basic training at Castelnaudary (within the 4e RE), the fresh legionnaire decided to serve with the 2e REP in Corsica.

In late 2019, Willem and his company left Corsica for Ivory Coast (West Africa) for a standard four-month Short duration mission (MCD) as a rotational part of the Ivory Coast French Forces (FFCI). After three months in this country, the 2e REP legionnaires were ordered to deploy to Mali (north of Ivory Coast) to carry out the French President’s appeal of January 2020 to reinforce anti-terrorist Operation Barkhane there (having been conducted since 2014).

For legionnaire Willem, this is his very first overseas military operation. His company has formed, together with other 2e REP companies, Task Force Altor. This battalion-sized unit operates in the remote three-border desert region (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger). According to the young South African, currently, the Legion paratroopers in Mali have to know only military operations and field rations, while their armored vehicles (VAB) have become their living rooms.

Within a combat group, everyone has his own place. He himself serves as a machine gunner and is equipped with Minimi. As he explains, the Minimi can deliver significant firepower. Which is essential for such combat group during an action against terrorists. However, it also requires accountability. But Willem is not afraid.

“I feel ready. My comrades count on me.”

In March 2020, the Task Force Altor of the 2e REP is one of the three French Desert Task Forces (GDT) to operate in Operation Barkhane now. The two others are also formed with the Foreign Legion units: Task Force Centurion consists of four squadrons of the 1er REC, and Task Force Dragon is composed by four companies of the 2e REI. The task forces are supported by engineer elements provided mainly by the 1er REG legionnaires having deployed to Mali.

2e REP - Operation Barkhane - Mali - 2020
Legionnaire Willem, a South African fighting in Mali in 2020 with the Foreign Legion’s 2e REP. He is equipped with his MINIMI machine gun.
2e REP - Operation Barkhane - Mali - 2020
Legionnaire Willem in Mali in 2020.
2e REP - Operation Barkhane - Mali - 2020
Task Force Altor members with a Nigerien soldier in the Mali-Niger-Burkina Faso border region in 2020.
2e REP - Operation Barkhane - Mali - 2020
Task Force Altor legionnaires in the remote three-border region of Mali, 2020.
2e REP - Operation Barkhane - Mali - 2020
The 2e REP paratroopers are far from any other French troops and their supply train. Because of that, their are supplied by air, like here by the 1er RTP (Airborne Train), 2020.


Source: Defense.gouv.fr


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