The French are embracing a different style of warfare than that of the U.S.—one that embraces limited, yet practical, objectives. The U.S. goes in big with shock and awe, throwing massive amounts of troops, air power, and ordnance at an enemy, with few exceptions.

Unlike their American allies, the French go in accepting their limitations. They don’t have a large army, endless wealth, or clouds of overhead cover in the form of drones and tactical aircraft. The French method is to drop in only a small number of troops—between a couple dozen and a couple hundred—with tenuous supply lines and little hope of medevac, the focus seemingly to simply “fuck shit up.”

In March 2007, the French went into the Central African Republic to respond to rebel attacks on French positions. The French response was to send in a small force of commandos and airborne troops, supported by a handful of attack helicopters and tactical fighters. They used these same strategies when they went into Mali in January 2013 to counter the Islamist militia Ansar Dine, and had only several hundred troops throughout the entire country with very limited logistics.

The French focus on pragmatic mission objectives, driven by what they realistically can achieve. They believe in limited goals, demanded by their limited resources. One thing is for certain: When the French decide to go after a Third-World enemy, they go at them and don’t stop until they have fucked that opponent up to their Gallic satisfaction.

Does the U.S. have anything to learn from the French? Possibly. But there are U.S. special operations units that are trained and prepared for such operations, in particular U.S. Army Special Forces, possibly MARSOC, and to a lesser extent, U.S. Army Rangers, depending on the duration of such operations. Africa has long been an area suited to such operations. Certain areas of the Middle East might provide similar opportunities. It will be interesting to watch both France and the U.S. as they conduct future operations.

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