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A French task force around the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle has been in the oceans for almost five months since February 21. With this, France underscores its global interests. Clemenceau 21 follows on from the 2019 operation of the same name and has similar objectives.

France wants to show its colors. It is thus present in international sea areas and gains important information at first hand. Cooperation with international partners is practiced. Above all, such a mission contributes to the security of the maritime communication routes and to the defense of freedom of action in strategic areas.

Clemenceau 21 leads the international sponsoring association from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, the northern Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. The association is involved twice in Operation Chammal as a French part of the international mission that the USA leads as Operation Inherent Resolve against the terrorist militia "Islamic State" in Iraq and Syria.

The aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, Photo: Ministers of the Army

The air defense frigate (FDA class) “Chevalier Paul”, the multi-purpose frigate (FREMM class) “Provence”, a submarine hunter, are grouped around the aircraft carrier “Charles De Gaulle” with its twenty Rafale and two E-2C Hawkeye -Boat, the task force supply "Var" and three helicopters (one Caïman, two Dauphin Pedro). Depending on requirements, the association is supported by maritime patrols of the type 'Atlantique 2'. Another multi-purpose frigate of the FREMM class, the "Auvergne", is temporarily integrated into the formation. The American destroyer (Arleigh Burke class) “USS Porter”, the Belgian frigate “Léopold I”, the Italian multi-purpose frigate (FREMM class) “Carlo Margottini” and the Greek frigate (Elli class) “Kanaris” also belong to the group this task force, which is under the command of Rear Admiral Marc Aussedat, the commander of the French Maritime Task Force (FRMARFOR).

The units don't have much time to warm up. Task Force 473 will take part in NATO exercise Dynamic Manta on its march into the Eastern Mediterranean. From February 24 to March 5, 2021, ships, submarines, patrol planes and personnel from nine NATO member states have come together in the central Mediterranean to practice submarine warfare (ASW).

The route of the Clemenceau 21 mission, graphic: Ministers of the Army

With multilateral initiatives such as “Operation Clemenceau”, France wants to cultivate the bilateral relations “that we maintain with our partners, especially with our German, British and American partners, particularly with regard to operational aspects and the development of capabilities. Examples of these bilateral relations are the Franco-German Defense Councils, the Lancaster House treaties or the joint fight against jihadist terrorism. ”(Quote from the press dossier of the French Ministry of Defense for this year's Operation Clemenceau - translation by the author)

Hans Uwe Mergener