Skip to comments.French troops parachute into Kosovo
Posted on 10/06/2004 10:08:38 AM PDT by 11th_VA
STANOVC, Serbia and Montenegro, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Hundreds of French troops parachuted into Kosovo on Wednesday in the first major operational drop by the French military since intervention in Zaire in 1978.
The mid-morning calm in open meadows north of the U.N.-governed province's capital, Pristina, was shattered by the thunder of seven Transall C-160 planes arriving at the end of a five-hour flight from bases in France.
Arching low over cornfields, they emptied their human cargo, filling the skies with the dirty-white canopies of 361 French paratroopers, each with combat rifle and 50 kg of equipment strapped to his back.
The units included marines, signals, a medical team and an Air Force squadron.
Their 200-metre (600-feet) jump into a drop zone guarded by Moroccan troops marked the start of a 2,000-strong reinforcement of the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force ahead of a general election in Kosovo on Oct. 23.
"It was an excellent drop," remarked a breathless Corporal David Suzanne, the sloping fields around him dotted with soldiers lumbering to their collection point.
A KFOR spokesman said it was France's first large airborne operation since 1978, when French paratroopers were deployed in war-torn Zaire in Central Africa.
"For the French army it's a very important operation," said Colonel Yves Kermervant.
German and Italian troops will deploy to Kosovo by land from Albania and Greece over the coming week, as part of KFOR's one-month reinforcement, a precaution triggered by ethnic riots in March in which Albanian mobs attacked minority Serb enclaves.
That spasm of violence, resulting in 19 deaths and 800 homes damaged or destroyed, caught NATO and Kosovo's United Nations administration by surprise. The alliance rushed 2,000 extra troops to the province, but it was after the fact and criticism was stinging.
"We're here so the elections can go ahead in a safe environment," said the paras' commanding officer, Captain Eric Dinechen.
"This demonstrates that Kosovo is still an operational theatre," said another French officer, who asked not to be named.
The deployment will temporarily raise the total strength of the five-year-old peacekeeping mission to 20,000.
Ethnic Albanians make up over 90 percent of Kosovo's two million population and are virtually unanimous in their demand for independence from Serbia.
The issue of the province's final status is expected to come to a head in mid-2005 for the United Nations and the major Western powers which authorised NATO's military intervention in 1999 to stop Serb repression of Albanians.
((Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Janet Lawrence))
There's a new cheese there.
They showed up to teach the remaining Serbian residents how to surrender. They're gonna cut up their 'chutes into thousands of white flags.
"Here we come, to save the day..."
Why did they jump from perfectly good aircraft?
I know, they were practicing surrendering to gravity.
I guess they just seize the opportunity of this deployment in Kosovo to stage a real-life operational drop. There are other French troops in Kosovo, as I recall, but they're mechanized infantry and not Para.
Too little TOO late.
Look for them to drop into Iraq in about 2010.
It must be difficult to control the parachute while simultaneously surrendering.
WTF are they dropping onto a field that is already secured?
Or rather, wouldn't they have been better served landing at the airport and driving to where they are going?
A soldier who's just jumped out of an airplane is pretty much stationary - he's not going anywhere very fast.
To do their job in Kosovo, they're going to need vehicles. And they could just as easily have matched up with the vehicles at the airport instead of having someone drive them out to BFE just so they could get another pip on their jump wings.
ok.... where are all these Iraqi terrorists those Americans have been talking about???
NOW Kosovo is going to be pacified once and for all. The French paratroopers have arrived! Vive Liberte! Vive Fraternite! Vive Egalite!
The farmers should sue for damage to their crops. Where's John Edwards when you need him?
Well, I'm all for Freedom, Brotherhood and Equality, personally.
Were the French able to hit the target.
Some may have landed in other countries.
Pray for W and Our Troops
A Balkans ping.
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