Who are you, Pierre Bayle ?
I am retired, after a long career as a journalist. I have been working for Agence France Presse in several parts of the world, namely in the Middle East. There I learned Arabic language.
What was your mission during operation Daguet ?
I was a special correspondent for Agence France Presse to cover the Gulf War and the French Operation Daguet. I arrived in Saudi Arabia in January 1991. We were hundreds of journalists from all over the world. During the air phase of the campaign, I stayed in Arabia, mainly in Riyadh. We had access to command posts and air bases (Dahran and Ahsa) from which coalition planes took off. We ventured onto roads near Kuwait to observe the airstrikes. But the roads were totally saturated with the countless vehicles, tanks, trucks of the coalition. Then, on February 24, I was inserted into a French armored regiment. It was with the 1st Spahis Regiment that I left the Hafar al-Batin camp (Saudi Arabia) heading North to As-Salman military base, a strategic site in southern Iraq. After three days of fighting, our units took control of As-Salman, defeating the Iraqi forces present.
Please describe a highlight of this campaign ?
There have been so many! Of course, I remember the stress when the regiment in which I was embedded entered Iraqi territory, and when we got in contact with the first enemy lines.
Soon after, I was impressed by the humanity of our soldiers, when they captured their surrendering adversaries. Iraqi soldiers were receiving food and medical treatment.
Another point that struck me: the information warfare. The major satellite television channels covered the conflict in real time. As a war reporter, I had never seen this before.
Did you enter Kuwait ? Did something hit your mind ?
I accompanied the French Minister of Defense (Mr. Pierre Joxe) when he visited Kuwait after the war. There, we visited the French units in charge of demining. There were millions of mines under the sand. In Kuwait, I realized that the operation was transitioning. After months of preparing for combat, and then fighting, the coalition evolved into a reconstruction force. This experience is still present in my mind 30 years later. I wanted to write down my memories and photos. I just published them in a journal called “passing by Daguet”. (Publisher: Blurb).