Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Review: Peace Enforcers

PEACE ENFORCERS: The EU Intervention in Chad, Dan Harvey, Book Republic, 2010, 199 pages, $5.99 (Available on Kindle).
In October 2007 the European Union (EUFOR) began planning its military deployment to Chad and the Central African Republic under a UN Mandate (Security Council Resolution 1778 of 25 September 2007) and eventually evolved into the short-lived MINURCAT United Nations Task Force in 2009.  The mandate of the force was to “take all necessary measures, within its capabilities and its area of operation in eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic” to protect civilians, UN personnel, and humanitarian assistance.  Lt General Patrick Nash of the Irish Defence Force commanded the 4,300 troops assigned to the mission who came from 26 countries.  The author of this book was a Soldier in the Irish Defence Forces and deployed to Chad as part of EUFOR.
The book is organized in a straightforward fashion along the lines of the military operation: Planning (15 October 2007 to 28 January 2008), Deployment (29 January to 15 March 2008), Execution (15 March 2008 to 14 March 2009), and Handover and Recovery (15 March to 15 May 2009).  The author begins his description of the military operation by describing the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and Sudan that provided the motivation for UN Mandate as well as the political rivalries between Chad and Sudan.  Both Chad and Sudan had a history of providing arms and support to the rebel groups that were trying to overthrow their rival government.  Janjaweed Arab militiamen commissioned by the Sudanese government terrorized the Darfur region of Sudan with their scorched-earth campaign of burning African villages and killing all the residents in a forced resettlement program to relocate or exterminate the local population.  Many Darfurians resettled in eastern Chad and launched rebel attacks against the Sudanese government.  In return the Sudanese government funded Chadian rebels in their attacks on N’Djamena that reached the capital and nearly toppled President Déby. 
French forces codenamed “Epervier” (Sparrow Hawk) based in their former colony of Chad provided the bulk of the forces for EUFOR and unfortunately were the only EUFOR casualties of the operation. During the yearlong Execution Phase EUFOR troops defended refugee camps, rescued humanitarian aid organizations, and were attacked on numerous occasions.  The author highlights separate incidents where Irish, Dutch, Austrian, and Russian forces came under fire or participated in operations.  One year after achieving Operational Capability EUFOR was replaced by MINURCAT and many of the EUFOR donor countries volunteered to remain and continue the mission.  One year later MINURCAT was disbanded at the request of Chad and Sudan, who had signed a peace accord and established a joint border force to patrol and pacify the region.
Peace Enforcers offers interesting insight into the Chadian wars with rebel forces and modern light combat in the African desert.  Several of the rebel battles are described in the book along with how helicopter gunships were decisive in the destruction of rebel forces.  Dan Harvey’s description of the entire EUFOR operation from UN Mandate thru peacekeeping operations to handover to MINURCAT is illustrative of the international process that affects international coalition operations.   Another good book that describes the process is LtGeneral (retired) Roméo Dallaire’s Shake Hands with the Devil, which describes the bureaucracy and politics that affected and limited his command of the UN Forces in Rwanda during the genocide.

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