August 1, 2021

in the hell of the “Barkhane” operation in the Sahel


After long months of hesitation, Emmanuel Macron announced, Thursday, June 10, the end of Operation Barkhane for which 5,100 French soldiers had been deployed in the Sahel since 2014. Among them, Théo, a 20-year-old brigadier, main character of the documentary December 28 available on the BrutX platform.

The film opens with a sequence in which the young soldier is troubled: he has just lost friends, ” brothers “ weapons. It was December 28, 2020 in Mali. Brigadier-Chief Tanerii Mauri and the hunters of 1re class Quentin Pauchet and Dorian Issakhanian were killed by the explosion of a homemade bomb as their vehicle passed. “The French population must know that what we are experiencing here is still hard, loose Theo. We were very close. They were like brothers. “

Read also: “Barkhane” in Mali, the end of illusions

While the partial withdrawal of troops, which should be compensated by more than “Support” and “Support” to the Sahelian armies, has been officially confirmed, the documentary brings the testimony of these men who fought in the zone known as “of the three borders” between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, a jihadist sanctuary. If France has had success against the Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS) and the organizations affiliated to Al-Qaida grouped together within the GSIM (Support Group for Islam and Muslims), it is not managed to stem a spiral of violence. “We cannot secure regions which fall back into anomie because states decide not to take their responsibilities, Mr. Macron said. It’s impossible, or else it’s endless work. “

Touching sincerity

The film shot by Camille Courcy shows the life of French soldiers as closely as possible. The great reporter, who has worked in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic and Syria, is said « embedded » – “embarked” with the army. In his twenty-one minute documentary, which could have done without heavy sound effects and certain slow motion, we see Theo and his comrades in arms evoking memories of their baccalaureate, sleeping in while doing physical exercises, video chat with their family or talk about the absence of romantic relationships for four months.

These sequences are interspersed with interviews in which the questions are asked frankly.

These sequences are interspersed with interviews in which the questions are asked frankly. “Are you ready to sacrifice yourself for the army?” “ “Yes, sure I’m ready, answers Theo with touching sincerity. But being young, it is difficult to talk about death. “ During a patrol in a village, the soldiers question a man who films them with his cell phone. ” Are you afraid ? “ “No, but it’s a big stresssaid the 20-year-old soldier. Someone can come over and shoot us. “

The sergeant isn’t a testosterone-stuffed hottie. Despite the loss of his three friends (50 soldiers are “Dead for France” in the Sahel), it “Still manages to live” and remember “The funny situations lived with them”. The tragedy of December 28, 2020 came at a time when France was already considering an exit strategy for Operation “Barkhane”. So we would like to know more about Theo’s ideals, his vision of Africa and especially the purpose of his mission. What is the meaning of this war, according to him? Does he know that none of the attacks perpetrated in France were committed by terrorists from the Sahel? “We are not changing the objective, declared Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces. France’s military commitment will remain very significant. “ What does Théo think of this today?

December 28, documentary-report by Camille Courcy (Fr., 2021, 21 min). Available online on BrutX from Thursday, June 17.