Potential Hot Spots: January 17, 2004


The CAR government is increasingly concerned about the Darfur War in western Sudan. So is the CARs main ally, France. The CAR government is fragile and unstable, having suffered several coup attempts and a recent civil war. Spillover from the Darfur War is already affecting neighboring Chad. On January 16 France gave the CAR 46 military vehicles and communication equipment. While the vehicles will probably be employed in the Bangui area, the equipment mix begins to address the CAR militarys lack of mobility. Will CAR troops be able to handle the equipment? France has been training (upgrading, really) three CAR battalions as well as training new gendarmes (police). One report said the French military advisory groups completed training a special CAR Army intervention battalion on January 16. This is the BIMA (Bataillon dIntervention Mixte et dAppui). This unit and the gendarmes are trained for anti-bandit operations operations similar to the kind of mobile patrol, surveillance, and ambush missions policing the Sudanese and Chadian borders entails. Poaching is also another big problem in the CAR, though one of the main areas at risk to poachers (south and particularly southeastern CAR towards the DRC) really require foot and airmobile patrols. There really is no road network.  It takes helicopters to patrol this area. Both French and CAR officials stated that the goal of the newly trained CAR units is to prevent the entry of foreign troops and keep the CAR from being turned into (direct quote here) a lawless space.


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