Division Daguet

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The Division Daguet was a French Army division formed in September 1990 in Saudi Arabia as part of France's contribution to Operation Desert Shield. The French military contribution to the allied cause to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation was named Opération Daguet and its ground part was subsequently named Division Daguet. In French "Daguet" is a young brocket deer.

In 1991 the division participated in Operation Desert Storm guarding the left flank of the allied advance. After Iraq surrendered the division's units returned to France and the division itself was disbanded on 30 April 1991.

History

After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 the United States and its allies began to deploy forces to Saudi Arabia to protect the country from a feared Iraqi invasion. As Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein refused to remove his forces from Kuwait the United Nations Security Council accepted UNSC Resolution 678, which authorized UN member nations in to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait with force after 15 January 1991.

France had already dispatched troops to Saudi Arabia in September 1990 to help deter Iraq further military adventures, but with war drawing closer, the French contingent was rapidly reinforced all through fall of 1990. Most of the initial units of the Division Daguet were drawn from the 6th Light Armoured Division (6 DLB), but ultimately the division was made up mixed units from 20 regiments with troops and equipment coming from 57 regiments in total.

Initially the commander of 6th Light Armoured Division Major General Jean-Charles Mouscardès commanded Division Daguet, but after a medical emergency on 7 February 1991 he was replaced by Brigadier General Bernard Janvier the next day. Overall commander of French forces in Saudi Arabia and Opération Daguet was General Michel Roquejeoffre, commanding officer of the French Army's Rapid Action Force (FAR) (Rapid Action Force).[1] Initially, the French operated independently under national command and control, but coordinated closely with the highest allied command CENTCOM. In January, the Division was placed under the tactical control of the US XVIII Airborne Corps and reinforced for the ground war with the following units from the US Army: 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, and 27th Engineer Battalion.

Operation Desert Storm

The French operated on the left flank during Opération Daguet (click to enlarge)

On 24 February 1991, the ground phase began. Reconnaissance units of Division Daguet advanced into Iraq. Three hours later, the French main body attacked. The initial objective of the division was an airfield 90 miles (140 km) inside Iraq at As-Salman. Reinforced by the US 82nd Airborne Division, the French crossed the border unopposed and attacked north. The French then came across elements of the 45th Iraqi Mechanised Infantry Division. After a brief battle, supported by French Army missile-armed Aérospatiale Gazelle attack helicopters, they controlled the objective and captured 2,500 prisoners. By the end of the first day Division Daguet had secured its objectives and continued the attack north, securing the highways from Baghdad to southern Iraq.

Division Structure

A AMX-30 B2 main battle tank from the 4e Régiment de Dragons from the 10th Armoured Division
Soldiers from the 2e Régiment Étranger d'Infanterie from the 6th Light Armoured Division prepare to fire a 120mm MO-120-RT-61 mortar
French and American soldiers inspecting an Iraqi Type 69 tank destroyed by the French Division Daguet during Operation Desert Storm.

The division's staff was mostly drawn from the staff of the 6th Light Armoured Division based in Nîmes. After the arrival of most units the division was split into two tactical groups: Group West (Groupement Ouest) and Group East (Groupement Est). At the outset of hostilities the division was composed as follows:[2]

French Division Daguet during the First Gulf War

Casualties

Five members of Division Daguet were killed, including one before the beginning of the conflict and two afterwards: a soldier was killed in a car accident in Saudi Arabia in November 1990. During the conflict, two paratroopers of the 1er Régiment de Parachutistes d'Infanterie de Marine were killed while clearing unexploded U.S. submunitions near Al-Salman on 26 February 1991, and after the conflict two Legionnaires of the 6e Régiment Étranger de Génie were killed in March respectively April near Kuwait City.

References

  1. ^ "Interview du général de corps d'armée Michel Roquejeoffre par le journaliste Pierre Bayle". .
  2. ^ "Opération Daguet : l'armée de Terre dans la guerre du Golfe". Defense.gouv. French Army. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
  3. ^ "Formation (Units)". Association Daguet. 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
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