French General Laurent Michon will succeed General Marc Conruyt at the end of July at the head of the anti-jihadist Barkhane force in the Sahel, of which he will have to pilot the announced transfer which provides in particular for a clear decrease in personnel, announced Thursday the Ministry of the Armed Forces.
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A former student of the prestigious Saint-Cyr military school, General Michon spent most of his career as an infantry officer in the mountain troops. With extensive operational experience (Bosnia, Kosovo, Lebanon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Central African Republic, Rwanda), he was twice assigned to the Planning and Conduct of Operations Center (CPCO) during of her career. He is currently commander of the 3rd division (32,000 men). "
General Michon will take his command in the Sahelo-Saharan strip at an essential moment, marked by the launch of the transformation of the French military apparatus
", which currently has 5,100 men, comments the French Ministry of the Armed Forces in a press release.
Appointed for a one-year term, the future commander of Barkhane will, upon his arrival, have to implement the gradual disengagement from the Sahel recently announced by President Emmanuel Macron, in favor of a system refocused on the fight against terrorism and support to the combat of the local armies, via the grouping of European special forces Takuba which has yet to gain in strength. According to the project studied by Paris, France plans to leave bases in northern Mali - Tessalit, Kidal and Timbuktu - by the end of 2021 to concentrate its presence on the rights-of-way of Gao and Ménaka, closer to the area known as “
”, on the borders of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, as well as in Niamey, the capital of Niger.
The decrease in French military personnel will take place gradually, with a milestone of around 3,500 men in one year then 2,500 people by 2023, according to a source familiar with the file. The elite commandos of the French “
should be maintained to continue the hunt for jihadist leaders.