1er REC: Legionnaire heading an armored platoon during Operation Barkhane in Mali

Adjudant Franc from the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment (1er REC), the only cavalry regiment of the French Foreign Legion, is currently deployed to Mali (West Africa). He and his men operate within Operation Barkhane, a French counter-terrorism operation in the Sahel region of Africa. Having passed 16 years with the Foreign Legion, he is now a respected platoon leader.

Adjudant Franc (Sergeant First Class for the U.S. Army, or Warrant Officer Class 2 for the British Army) is the head of an armored peloton (a platoon in the French cavalry) in the Desert Task Force Centurion, a provisional combined unit formed in February 2020 with four squadrons of the 1er REC and several support elements detached from different army branches. Their mission is to scout and neutralize local armed terrorist groups (GAT) in the remote, deserted region close to the border of Mali with Burkina Faso and Niger. Another Foreign Legion task force has been involved in the operation in this deserted land alongside the Legion cavalrymen.

Franc joined the 1er REC in 2004, after his initial four-month basic training at Castelnaudary, with the 4e RE. He underwent through all positions within the armored platoon, starting as a driver and gunner, serving as a patrol leader and a vehicle leader afterward, up to the current post of platoon leader. This is already his second deployment to Mali. He commands one of the two pelotons of AMX 10 RCR armored vehicles that have been sent there.

His platoon is equipped with three gun-mounted six-wheeled armored vehicles and consists of around twenty NCOs and legionnaires. They act primarily as reconnaissance elements, but they are able to engage and destroy any type of objective up to 2,700 yards (2,500 m) as well.

Their tasks vary. An armored platoon can perform all combat missions based on the cavalry mobility. His men with their vehicles serve as vanguard at the head of their sous-groupement (sub-group), a squadron-sized or company-sized (for motorized infantry) French tactical unit used for operations), covering a front of several kilometers when conducting reconnaissance. They can also provide flank guard or escort for military convoys, and carry out ambushes or armored raids.

As Adjudant Franc says, to command legionnaires is an extraordinary human adventure. But he’s satisfied.

“We are ready to strike our enemy quickly and hard. Once the mission is finished, at sunset, I share a coffee with my legionnaires while watching the desert… This is a privileged moment of cohesion where we discuss the events of the day and this human adventure that constitutes operations.”

The 1er REC legionnaires will serve in Mali at least until June. Unfortunately, two of their comrades have already been killed.

1 REC - Operation Barkhane - Mali - 2020 - Adjudant Franc
Adjudant Franc, a 1er REC platoon leader in Mali, 2020.
1 REC - Operation Barkhane - Mali - 2020 - Adjudant Franc
Adjudant Franc ready for an operation in Mali, 2020.
1 REC - Operation Barkhane - Mali - 2020 - Adjudant Franc
An AMX 10 RCR armored vehicle of the 1er REC in the desert of Mali, 2020.


Information source & Photo credits: Defense.gouv.fr


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1er REC: Neutralisation of two terrorists during Operation Barkhane in Mali
2e REI: Task Force Dragon in April 2020
2020 Operation Monclar in the Sahel
2e REP: A South African fighting in Mali
1er REG + 1er REC: Deployments in 2020