An Open Letter to French President Francois Holland about the African Raids Debacle

Subject: An Open Letter to French President Francois Holland about the African Raids Debacle
From: Major-Gen. Roland Allenby-Johnson (retired)
Date: 15 Jan 2013

Dear Monsieur le President.

I salute and applaud your intentions in fighting terrorism and the odious al-shabaab insurgent groups with their links to al-Qaeda. We, the British stand shoulder to shoulder with you in your opposition to the spread of Islamic militant groups, and in your refusal to negotiate with hostage-takers. I can also understand your desire to free a French national held in captivity, such as Dennis Allex.

However, and with the greatest respect for those who died in the two raids last weekend, one in Somalia, and one in Mali, you should have asked the British Special Air Service (SAS) to accompany your commandos on the raid, particularly the one to try to free Monsieur Allex. I know there may be a question of national pride here - wanting to produce a glorious boys’ own epic adventure which cocks a snoot at terrorists and steals away one of your citizens from their clutches. But the French record of successful commando raids is not long and is not glorious.

Sadly, the days of Le Legionne Estranger - hard-bitten French Foreign Legion troops with sand between their toes writing wrongs and raising the tricolour where once the blood-stained and ragged banner of anarchy and intolerance flew. But you no longer have the troops or the military leaders capable of doing it. Even in French Indo-China (now Vietnam) you were unable to hold the line against the Khmer Rouge and the communists. In fairness, the United States too came a cropper there, but you should have learnt your lesson. Some nationalities are good at culture, some at negotiation, some at bureaucracy, and some, like the British, excel at small pin-point disciplined in and out operations that rely on tip-top intelligence, attention to detail and speed. Why did you not ask our Prime Minister, David Cameron, to supply some SAS commandos and undertake a joint Anglo-French mission in Mogadishu? Perhaps together we could have saved the hostage. And even if that hadn’t been possible it would have shown the world (and terrorists) that the old Entente Cordiale between our two countries can also be a bond of steel, to strike fear into those who would push the world over the brink into anarchy fanaticism and repression.

So please Monsieur le President, the next time you are contemplating military action in the form of a selective strike, remember the British and how we mounted a successful operation to end the Iranian Embassy Siege without the loss of any hostages’ or SAS soldiers’ lives. We have the skills, the willpower and the backbone to formulate and execute any small-scale but high-risk operations against terrorists in future. We can also stand proud and firm against any backlash from terrorists. We also have an impressive history of foiling bomb plots. Our MI5 and MI6 intelligence is better than ever. The British Lion and the French Fleur de Lys can together strike fear into the hearts of terrorists across the world!