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Spotlight on CPA10: Understanding France's Special Forces Unit Amidst Tragedy in Iraq.

| 2023

On August 29, 2023, the French government announced the tragic loss of a French soldier from the CPA10 (10th Air Parachute Commando) during a mission in Iraq cast a spotlight on this elite unit of the French Air and Space Force. As the nation mourns the brave soul, it's crucial to understand the significance of the CPA10 and its role in global military operations.
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The CAP10 is a Special Forces Unit of the French Air Force. (Picture source French Air Force)

The "Commando parachutiste de l’air numéro 10", commonly known as CPA10, stands as a beacon of excellence within the French Air and Space Force. Affiliated with the Special Operations Command (COS), this unit is renowned for its rigorous training, specialized skills, and unwavering commitment to its missions.

The Commando Parachutiste de l'Air (CPA 10) is a special forces unit of the French Air and Space Force, attached to the Commandement des opérations spéciales (Special Operations Command). It is based at the Base aérienne 123 Orléans-Bricy in Loiret and has been active in various theaters of operations and at the heart of significant crises.

The origins of the CPA 10 trace back to the Algerian War. Under the guidance of General Alain de Maricourt, the Commandos parachutistes de l'air were created in 1956 to complement aerial operations on the ground. The CPA 10, initially designated as 10.541, was established under the command of Albert-Charles Meyer, inheriting the traditions of the GIA (Groupes d'Infanterie de l'Air). The CPA 10 was organized with 5 officers, 22 non-commissioned officers, and 75 enlisted men, totaling 102 personnel.

The CPA10's expertise spans a wide range of operations. They are adept at counter-terrorism, playing a pivotal role in neutralizing threats and ensuring global peace. Their specialized training equips them to execute high-risk hostage rescue missions, ensuring the safety of captives in the most volatile situations. Beyond this, they are skilled in capturing and neutralizing high-value targets, which plays a crucial role in dismantling enemy command structures. Their prowess also extends to air guidance and the strategic recovery of airfields, ensuring dominance in aerial operations.

The CPA10, an elite unit within the French Air and Space Force, plays several pivotal roles in global military operations. They are intensively trained in counter-terrorism, equipping them with the skills to address and neutralize terrorist threats, which positions them as invaluable assets in global peacekeeping endeavors. Their expertise doesn't stop there; they are also proficient in hostage liberation, often undertaking high-risk rescue missions to ensure the safety of captives in unpredictable and dangerous situations. In addition to these roles, the CPA10 is adept at high-value target operations, capturing and neutralizing key figures, which is instrumental in breaking down enemy command structures. Furthermore, their knowledge and skills encompass air guidance and the strategic recovery of airfields, which guarantees their control and supremacy in aerial missions.

In terms of equipment, the CPA10 is always at the forefront of technological advancements. A notable example is their training with the Black Hornet 3 (BH3) Personal Reconnaissance System in December 2020. This nano drone, designed for precision intelligence gathering, allows the CPA10 to discreetly gather crucial information, ensuring the safety of their operatives and the success of their missions.

The recent events in Iraq are part of the broader French Operation Chammal, initiated in 2014. This operation represents France's commitment to curbing the expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and supporting the Iraqi Army. As part of the international coalition against ISIL, France has been actively involved in providing military assistance, training, and other resources to the Iraqi forces. The operation underscores France's dedication to global peace and its resolve against terrorism.

Recently, the combined capabilities of the A400M Atlas new military transport aircraft and the CPA 10 have been utilized, among other things, during operations to evacuate nationals. The latest operation, named Sagittaire, facilitated the repatriation of French citizens due to the deteriorating security situation in Sudan. Four transport aircraft from the AAE, carrying cargo, vehicles, and military reinforcements from the National Gendarmerie and the Crisis and Support Center (CDCS), left France to bolster the French Forces stationed in Djibouti (FFDJ), which were already on alert. A similar approach was observed in August 2021 when Operation Apagan was launched in Afghanistan.

The loss of the CPA10 soldier in Iraq is a somber reminder of the risks these heroes face daily. Their dedication, expertise, and bravery have been instrumental in numerous successful operations, earning them respect and admiration on the global stage. As France mourns, the nation stands united in its gratitude and respect for the CPA10 and all military personnel who put their lives on the line for global peace and security.

Defense News August 2023

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