13e DBLE: 400 legionnaires ready to deploy to Africa

Around 400 legionnaires of the 13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion (13e DBLE) are ready to deploy to Africa to join Operation Barkhane taking place in Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger.

Last Wednesday (January 10), during a press conference, Colonel Guillaume Percie du Sert (the 13e DBLE’s commanding officer) confirmed that three companies of his regiment are designated for a mission in Mali, which would begin in two weeks and last four months. The designated units are the HQ & Logistics Company + two combat companies.

Those 400 legionnaires, one third of the regiment, are part of a 750-head combined task force, led by the 13e DBLE’s colonel. This task force, being sent to Africa to join Operation Barkhane, would consist of the 13e DBLE legionnaires and some 350 elements of other French Army regimens.

For the 13th Demi-Brigade, this would become the first overseas military operation since its movement to France in 2016.

The 13e DBLE has been reinforced to the regimental strength since June 2016, when the unit was stationed at Camp Larzac, located near La Cavalerie in the Aveyron department, southern France. From 2011 to 2016, the then 13e DBLE (being composed of some 70 permanent elements + 200 rotating elements only) was being placed in the United Arab Emirates. In 2018, as an objective of its important reorganization and modernization, the regiment would see up to 1,300 men within its ranks. The 13e DBLE was also the first French Army regiment to receive HK 416 F, the new French Army assault rifle made by Heckler & Koch.

Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region of Africa is considered as “the French pillar of counterterrorism in the Sahel region”. It is aimed at local terrorist groups and their supporters carrying out all forms of trafficking, including drugs and weapons, in the uninhabited, remote parts of the Saharan desert. The operation is the successor of Operation Serval, the French military mission in Mali between 2013-14, and Operation Epervier, the military mission in Chad between 1986-2014.

13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Legion - Colonel Guillaume Percie du Sert - 2018
13e DBLE’s Colonel Guillaume Percie du Sert during the press conference on January 10
© Photo credit: Journal de Millau
13e DBLE - 13 DBLE - Legion - Heckler & Koch HK 416 F - HK416F - 2017
13e DBLE legionnaires with the new Heckler & Koch HK416F rifle in 2017
© Photo credit: Légion étrangère

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13e DBLE: Bold Alligator 2017
13e DBLE: First French Army regiment to receive Heckler & Koch rifle
13e DBLE: Exercise with Spanish Legion 2017
2e REI: Exercise with US Marines of July 2014