What was your mission during operation Daguet ?
I commanded the 3rd company of the 6th Engineer Foreign Regiment (6th REG). This Foreign Legion regiment was engaged in the military campaign against the Iraqi forces. Once they were driven out, we were tasked to clear some areas where fighting took place, and to destroy huge stocks of Iraqi ammunition. Then, one part of the regiment has been relocated to Kuwait. Our mission was to clean up and demine, to provide assistance to the Kuwaiti civilian population (especially the sick and wounded). We operated jointly with the 17th Engineer Airborne Regiment. The clearance and mine clearance activities lasted from March 1 until May 15. I was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Danigo, the regiment’s deputy commander.
Please describe a highlight of this campaign ?
I experienced many very emotional moments during the conflict. Perhaps the day that struck me the most was February 24 in the early morning hours. The entire French division had launched its offensive to the north. I was part of the advanced units that had crossed the Iraqi border. My mission was to clear the road to the division, in case of natural or man-made obstacles. There, I wondered how many men would be in my company at the end of the day. Fortunately, we didn’t lose a man that day. We had losses thereafter.
Did you enter Kuwait ? Did something hit your mind ?
I arrived in Kuwait shortly after liberation. It was an incredible vision. The burning oil wells gave off thick black clouds. It felt like we were constantly living at night…. even at noon! Temperatures dropped several degrees because of the cloudy sky. The country was marked by the hardly finished fighting: corpses on the ground, columns of destroyed Iraqi tanks. My regiment was tasked to clean up the beaches, from March 1. The civilian population had to be able to resume its normal life. After one month of hard work, a ceremony was planned to symbolize the normalization. It was a good way to celebrate and meet Kuwaiti people. On April 1, early morning, we carried out a last check before opening the area to civilian people.
We were fortunate, because we discovered a mine on the beach! Despite continuous clearance, this device had been brought back by the current from the sea…
Have you learned from this campaign useful takeaways for the rest of your career?
This campaign has marked me for my entire career. I am proud to have liberated Kuwait while taking part to a massive military operation. It was the largest military coalition since World War II. I have been marked by this operation in my day-to-day life until today.
What are your current responsibilities ?
I retired from the French army in 2014. But I still feel military at heart, and I wanted to continue living my commitment and my passion. As a reservist, I work on several subjects to benefit from my experience: French Army organization and information systems.