What was your mission during Operation Daguet?
In 1990, I was 25 years old and a platoon leader, 1st Combat Engineer Platoon of the 2nd Company, 6th Foreign Engineer Regiment. This regiment is the ‘youngest’ of the Foreign Legion, because it was created in 1984. I spent seven months in the middle of the desert of the Arabian Peninsula from October 1990 to April 1991. First in the region of Hafar Al Batin (Saudi Arabia), then in the area of As Salman (Iraq).
Please describe a highlight of the campaign?
The assault on As-Salman Airport: My platoon, in a VAB (armored vehicle), was at the forefront of the regiment to cross the southern fence of the airport. We had to operate nice and quick to enable the infantry to enter the area safely, and then to conquer the airport held by the Iraqi military. To secure the point of penetration, the engineering section implemented a demining device: the Mine Clearance Line Charge – MICLIC- (500 kg explosive bag fired by a rocket). A beautiful and enormous ball of fire cleared the whole area. The infantrymen were able to rush into the breach. It was the 2nd Company of the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment that stormed and drove the Iraqi soldiers from the airport.
Did you enter Kuwait? What impacted you the most?
After the end of operations, I came to Kuwait for a few days. Two companies of my regiment (the 1st and the 3rd company) cleared the beaches of Kuwait City for two or three months. I had the immense satisfaction of seeing the Kuwaitis cheering us along the roads. They were very grateful to us for liberating them. I was also shocked by the deaths of two soldiers from my regiment while clearing mines. One of them died on the beaches of Kuwait.
Did the lessons learned during this campaign help you during the rest of your military career?
From a military perspective, this campaign will remain unique. It was a symmetric conflict. We were facing the Iraqi army: an enemy of the same strength as us, using the same course of action. In addition, as the enemy was installed in defense, they had time to prepare the ground (mines, barbed wire, ditches). The operations in which I participated thereafter (Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan) were asymmetric. We have faced elusive adversaries, using both kinetic and non-kinetic courses of action, including in the field of perceptions (communication and media).
What do you do now ?
I am still in the army, with the rank of colonel. I am the administrative and financial director at a defense base in the south of France. I pass on to young people what I have learned: serving France with Honor and Fidelity.