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Leadership: Speaking French Can Get You Killed
   Next Article → ATTRITION: The Bad Luck Of The Irish
May 15, 2009: While the French Army has recognized the importance of smart bombs and missiles, they found themselves poorly prepared to make the best use of these weapons when they sent troops to Afghanistan. They had several problems. First, they did not have enough FACs (Forward Air Controllers, teams trained to call in warplanes and smart bombs), and those FACs they had often lacked good enough English to deal with the non-French pilots. NATO pilots, like international commercial aviation pilots, use English as a standard language (for working with ground controllers and each other). Unlike pilots, the French FACs don't practice their English regularly, and have problems communicating with non-French pilots. Another problem was that the French FACs didn't have the Rover terminal (which allows U.S., and most NATO, FACs to see what pilots see via their targeting pods).

Many of these French problems arise from France having left the NATO military organization back in the 1960s. France remained in NATO, but its armed forces did not participate in training and standardization efforts with other NATO troops. There were some problems with this back in 1990, when France sent troops to join the effort to throw Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. But in 1991 the solution was to place the French division out on the western flank, where they did not have to worry about interoperability with other NATO forces. In Afghanistan, everyone shares the same pool of warplanes and helicopters, and many other forms of support as well. Interoperability is essential. Decades of NATO efforts to develop interoperability standards for basic things like communications, air and artillery support, supply and medical evacuation, have paid off. Not perfect, but not a lot of costly confusion either. The French now have to play catch up after decades on their own.

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Herald12345    This is unfair.   5/15/2009 7:33:15 AM
The French will do what others caught in this mess, (Poles, Humgarians and Czechs for example). they will language course their FACs, they ARE language coursing their FACS.
 
This is French bashing pure and  simple.
 
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braddy       5/15/2009 9:10:59 AM
It isn't French bashing, it is reporting. The French screwed up here and they weren't under Soviet domination for decades to explain why they won't teach their people English.  Their petty vanities can get people killed.
 
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JFKY    Herald   5/15/2009 9:42:32 AM
This is French bashing pure and  simple.
 
You make that sound like a bad, thing.
 
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Herald12345    It is a bad thing.   5/15/2009 12:43:50 PM

This is French bashing pure and  simple.

 

You make that sound like a bad, thing.


Constructive criticism must be justified. I will lay into THALES, and  Dassailt ecause they are thieves and liars, ASTER, MICA, RAFALE, that nuclear powered plane ferry, etc, because there are plenty of technical reasons to do so  
 
Being French is not a reason-especially when it is not a UNIQUE condition.. 
 
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JFKY    Now you've done it....   5/15/2009 1:56:30 PM
1) Defended the French but
2) Said being French is NOT unique.  Good Lord man now you've insulted EVERYONE!
 
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FCUS       5/15/2009 2:27:25 PM
The French screwed up here and they weren't under Soviet domination for decades to explain why they won't teach their people English.  Their petty vanities can get people killed.

 What in hell are you tying to say??

Im french and IMO my english is quite good.
 
Anyway, I read an article a few weeks ago about french FACs in A-Stan (from the magasine RAID ).
I will post it as soon as I find time (gotta translate etc...)

 
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JFKY    FCUS,    5/15/2009 2:38:15 PM
The thrust of the article then would suggest that you need to hie yourself to Afghanistan to provide air control capacity for the French forces there...it's not that the French DON'T speak English, just not enough of them do....probably more speak German than English...sorry bad joke...
 
I don't know if it's "French Bashing" it just suggests that France HAS been out of the close alliance of NATO for a while and so "interoperability" might be a littler lower than it might otherwise be.  NATO is NOT the Atlantic Alliance, I am fully aware that France IS a member of the Atlantic Alliance.
 
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FCUS       5/15/2009 7:02:24 PM

The thrust of the article then would suggest that you need to hie yourself to Afghanistan to provide air control capacity for the French forces there...it's not that the French DON'T speak English, just not enough of them do....probably more speak German than English...sorry bad joke...

 

I don't know if it's "French Bashing" it just suggests that France HAS been out of the close alliance of NATO for a while and so "interoperability" might be a littler lower than it might otherwise be.  NATO is NOT the Atlantic Alliance, I am fully aware that France IS a member of the Atlantic Alliance.


Yes bad joke indeed

Anyway, I don't think the article is bashing the french, i agree that an important number of my fellow citizens do not speak english.
However, I doubt that soldiers would be allowed to become FACs if they have poor english skills. IMO they speak it good enough to be understood by NATO pilots, mostly americans in their case (what is there to say? coordinates? number of insurgents? required air suport? not very hard...). 

As I said earlier, Im going to post an article on french FACs, that also explain why the french army is not using Rover Terminal, as soon as I have time (finals are next week, so not before a few days)

BTW France is now a NATO member again as you probably know. As for interoperability, the french army has been training with NATO members armies for decades, I don't think it's a problem.

 

 
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phrogdriver       5/16/2009 4:12:02 PM
Actually there's a LOT of talking that may be required.  Positive indentification (PID) of the enemy is required to run close air support.  In a counterinsurgency, this may require a lot of back-and-forth between the pilot and the FAC.  "See the house on the north side...two men with RPGs running east to west ...." etc, etc.  Poor, or slow English, would greatly hinder this and endanger friendlies.
 
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trenchsol       5/17/2009 11:24:49 AM
Far as I know, French are notorious for not willing to learn and speak other languages. They expect other people to know French. So there is nothing unexpected about this.
 
DG

 
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