On April 20, 2016 DLS had the pleasure to host Lieutenant-Colonel Cédric Franco, serving in the French army. His lecture revolved around the theme of the difficulties of command, fist and foremost the responsibility of the lives of subordinates.
Lieutenant – Colonel Franco commands the 8th electrical and mechanical engineers regiment (train in combat, repair and supply in operations, repair and supply in France).
The first section of his talk focused on his daily mission (barracks): firstly, his task consists of the preparation of the troops by improving individual skills and collective strengths , the aim being the creation of a ‘ready to engage’ unit. Secondly, a commander needs to provide industrial maintenance, in two main domains: electronics and mechanics, the goal being supporting other army units to preserve their training capabilities.
The major criterion to asses the success of daily missions is command. Command at all levels: platoon, company and regiment. Command has to be present in whatever domain: military training and industrial activity and whatever the personnel (military and civilian). The type of command needed has to be exemplary, professional and is characterized by a sense of duty and equity.
Lieutenant-Colonel Franco addressed abroad operations. Operation Barkhane took place in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Tchad. Lieutenant-Colonel Franco was in Mali from Sept. 2015 until Feb. 2016, with the aim to hamper terrorist groups activities by disabling their capabilities of acting in Africa but in Europe as well. Franco’s mission was to command the logistics battalion, deployed in a base in central Mali (Gao) and other four operational bases. The mission was far from being easy: harsh landscapes (desert and mountain), tough range of temperature, long distances to be reached in full autonomy (more than 500 km) , and a limit on 10L of water per man per day are some examples of the difficulties faced. The major criteria of assessment of these operations is troops’ training (physical and combat training) and the mission’s preparation.
In the last part of his talk Lieutenant-Colonel Franco addressed the issue of national territory operations, with regard to Operation ‘Watchkeeper’ (Sentinel), which is a common mission for all army units. This operation, which was enacted in response to the 2015 terrorist attacks, mainly targets public areas, official meetings and religious potential targets. The specific training needed for these kind of operations involves crowd control, self-defense, urban combat (short-range, danger from everywhere) and massive casualties coordination (especially when facing terrorist attacks as the ones of November 2015).