Opération Daguet (French pronunciation: [ɔpeʁasjɔ̃ daɡɛ], Operation Brocket) was the codename for French operations during the 1991 Gulf War. The conflict was between Iraq and a coalition force of approximately 30 nations led by the United States and mandated by the United Nations in order to liberate Kuwait.
|Part of the Gulf War|
An AMX-30 of the French 6th Light Armoured Division bivouacked near Al-Salman during Opération Daguet.
|Objective||Liberation of Kuwait|
The lead up to the war began with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990, following unproven Iraqi contentions that Kuwait was illegally "slant-drilling" oil across Iraq's border. The invasion was met with immediate economic sanctions by the United Nations against Iraq. After a period of diplomacy and coalition forces deploying to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, hostilities commenced with air operations on 17 January 1991, resulting in a decisive victory for the coalition forces, which drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait with minimal coalition deaths. The main battles were aerial and ground combat within Iraq, Kuwait, and bordering areas of Saudi Arabia. The war did not expand outside the immediate Iraqi–Kuwaiti–Saudi border region, although Iraq fired missiles on Israeli cities.
Soon after the invasion of Kuwait, France sent an additional frigate to augment the two French warships already in the Persian Gulf. Operation "Salamandre" launched with the deployment of the 5th Regiment of Combat Helicopters (RHC) and a company of the first Regiment of Infantry on board the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau, escorted by the cruiser Colbert, the tanker Var and the tugboat A696 Buffle.
On 14 September 1990, Iraqi forces entered the residence of the French ambassador in Kuwait. In response, French President François Mitterrand increased the number of troops and aircraft deploying to Saudi Arabia. Soon after, the French intervention was renamed "Opération Daguet" under the command of General Michel Roquejeoffre. Additional French reinforcements arrived in December 1990 and January 1991.
The French ground forces contribution was the provisional Division Daguet, which was drawn mostly from units of the 6th Light Armoured Division (6 DLB), with additional units like the 4th Regiment of Dragoons from the 2nd Armoured Division, and units from the French Foreign Legion. Division Daguet split its forces into two tactical groups for the actual ground war: Group West (Groupement ouest) and Group East (Groupement est). Initially, the French operated independently under national command and control, but coordinated closely with the Americans, Saudis and 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.
The role of the 6th French Light Armoured Division and the US XVIII Airborne Corps was to protect the theatre left flank and perhaps draw off Iraqi tactical and operational reserves.
The landing platform ship Foudre was sent to Kuwait to increase the force's medical capabilities.
The naval part of the operation was called "Opération Artimon". From August, it was carried out by three A 69 type avisos, organised around the frigates Dupleix and Montcalm, supported by the tanker Durance. In October, the deployment was reinforced with the frigate Lamotte-Picquet and fleet escort Du Chayla.
The ships enforced the embargo against Iraq by controlling merchant shipping, including 28 586 controls and the boarding of over 1000 ships for further inspection. 14 warning shots were fired. Notably, on 20 September, the Iraqi ship Al Taawin Al Aradien was intercepted by the cruiser USS San Jacinto, the Spanish frigate Infanta Cristina and the fleet escort Du Chayla; she refused to comply until warning shots were fired, but refused to be boarded by anyone but the French. A group of Fusiliers Marins hence inspected the ship.
Prior to the start of air strikes in January 1991, coalition naval forces were operating in the Persian Gulf to enforce sanctions against Iraq. Along with other nations, French warships conducted boarding operations against ships suspected of breaking the sanctions against Iraq. On one such occasion, on 2 October 1990, the French aviso Doudart de Lagree intercepted the North Korean vessel, Sam Il Po, which was carrying plywood panels. After the merchant vessel repeatedly failed to answer bridge-to-bridge radio calls, warning shots were fired across the vessel's bow. Sam Il Po then stopped and permitted the French ship to board.
A long series of UN Security Council resolutions were passed regarding the conflict. One of the most important was Resolution 678, passed on 29 November giving Iraq a withdrawal deadline of 15 January 1991, and authorizing "all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660", a diplomatic formulation authorising the use of force. After the deadline passed, on 17 January 1991, intensive air operations began. The majority of missions were flown by the United States, but French Air Force aircraft also took part. SEPECAT Jaguars undertook ground attack missions, Mirage F1s undertook ground attack and reconnaissance missions and Mirage 2000s provided fighter air cover. Mirage F1s were later grounded over concerns that they would be misidentified as enemy fighters by coalition forces since the Iraqi Air Force also operated the Mirage F1.
Compared to losses faced by U.S. and U.K the French suffered no loss of aircraft in any engagements in the war. The French had deployed 40 planes. Four Jaguars were damaged by anti-aircraft fire.
Operations – ground phaseEdit
On 24 February 1991, the ground phase began. Reconnaissance units of the 6th French Light Armoured Division advanced into Iraq. Three hours later, the French main body attacked. The initial objective for the French was an airfield 90 miles (140 km) inside Iraq at As-Salman. Reinforced by the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment from 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, the French 6th Light Armoured Division, supported by the 82nd Airborne Division had secured its objectives and continued the attack north, securing the highways from Baghdad to southern Iraq.
Nine French soldiers were killed during the operation, including two before the beginning of the conflict and five afterwards: a soldier was killed in a car accident in Saudi Arabia in November 1990, and a pilot one month later in the crash landing of his Mirage F1, at the time of a reconnaissance mission in Saudi Arabia. During the conflict, two paratroopers of the 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, 1e RPMIa; Sergeant Schmitt and Corporal-Chef Éric Cordier were killed while clearing unexploded U.S. submunitions near Al-Salman on 26 February 1991. 33 others were wounded, including 22 slightly. After the conflict, eight soldiers of the 1st IR were wounded (including three seriously) on 12 March 1991, while going along the Texas road, close to Have-Salman. Two Legionnaires of the 6th Foreign Engineer Regiment were killed in March and April near Kuwait City, and three died in May, including two in car accidents.
A Kuwait 1990–91 battle honour was issued to several regiments by a decision after the war.
-  Archived May 2, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- "Coalition Fixed-Wing Combat Aircraft Attrition in Desert Storm". Estimative Error Probable. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- "2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment "White Falcons"". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- Koweït 1990-1991 "Edition Chronologique n° 45 du 29 octobre 2010".Le Ministère de la Défense instruction n°1515/DEF/EMA/OL/2 du 23 septembre 1983, modifiée, sur les filiations et l'héritage des traditions des unités; décision n°010318/DEF/CAB/SDBG/CPAG du 15 juillet 2008 portant création d'une commission des emblèmes. Art. 1. L'incription "Koweït 1990-1991" est attribuée aux flags et standards formations des armées énumérated below. 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment, 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment, 1st Foreign Engineer Regiment, 3rd R.I.Ma, 1st R.P.I.Ma, 11th R.A.Ma, 4th Régiment de dragon, 1st Régiment de Spahis, 6th Command and Support Régiment, 1st R.H.C, 3rd R.H.C, puis les formations de l'Armée de l'Air (5th, 7th, 11th de Chasse, 11th Reconnaissance, 61e, 62e de Transport). Le présent arrêté sera publié au bulletin officiel des armées, Hervé Morin.
- Rottman, Gordon (1993). Armies of the Gulf War. London: Osprey. ISBN 1-85532-277-3.
- Cooke, James J. (1993). 100 Miles From Baghdad: With the French In Operation Desert Storm. Westport: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-94528-6. Cooke, a Mississippi National Guard lieutenant colonel, had been called up for Desert Storm as he was one of few field-grade officers who spoke fluent Arabic. Being also fluent in French, he was sent from XVIII Airborne Corps HQ to be their liaison officer to the Division Daguet.