Far from being limited to military operations and training, the French contribution to the fight against terrorism in Africa also takes other forms which may be more discreet but are just as decisive. A recent example is in Cameroon where France gave that West African nation’s Special Forces a package of armaments worth €480,000. In addition to 11 Peugeot P4 tactical vehicles, the lot included four 12.7mm heavy machine guns, nine AA52 7.62mm light machine guns, 13 ER95 VHF radios, 40 bullet-proof vests, 40 heavy helmets and 40 helmet covers.
“This event is a concrete example of President Hollande’s promise during his State visit on 3 July 2015 to reinforce military aid to Cameroon’s armed forces engaged in the fight against the terrorists of Boko Haram,” explained Christine Robichon, French Ambassadress to Cameroon during the hand-over ceremony of the military items.
The equipment will enable the 32 members of the Cameroon first special unit, whose training was completed last year, to start their operational training. “This [equipment] will give them mobility, speed and flexibility but also fire power and the individual protection necessary for the missions they may have to undertake,” added Robichon.
A second unit of 40 men began a training cycle last September with the French Army deployed in Gabon under the command of Brigadier Vincent Guionie, whilst a third detachment should start its initial training before the year is out.
France has also engaged intelligence-gathering means. Two military personnel have been detached to Maroua to exchange tactical information with the Cameroon Army. The French Army in Gabon is also instructing the Cameroon military to dismantle improvised explosive devices, a favoured weapon of Boko Haram’s. Almost 120 deminers were trained last year.