Operation Enduring Freedom – Chad
Primary Operating Location: Faya-Largeau, Chad?
– U/I Elements, 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne)?
– 37th Airlift Squadron
Start Date: March 2004
End Date: 2005?
Superseded by: Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara
Summary: Between March 2004 and 2005, the United States conducted counter-terrorism efforts in Chad as part of the broad Global War on Terror (GWOT) and Operation Enduring Freedom. The efforts were referred to as Operation Enduring Freedom – Chad. The apparent inciting incident for US intervention was a firefight had occurred between the Chad military and an Algerian terrorist group, Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), the first reports about which appeared around 11 March 2004. This firefight, which was believed to have resulted in the death of some 43 GSPC members, apparently began in Niger and crossed into Chad. Reports indicated that the combat operations were supported by the US, which provided communications, intelligence, and reconnaissance support. The fighting took place over 2 days. The group, led by a former Algerian soldier named Saifi Ammari and nicknamed “the Para,” had been tracked across the Sahara from its bases in the Algeria-Mali border area.
On 15 March 2004, European Command issued a release indicating that according to Chad officials, 3 Chadian army soldiers were killed and 16 were injured when they encountered and engaged a group of fighters from the Salafist Group for Call and Combat who had crossed from Niger into Chad between the cities of Zouarke and Wour, 600 kilometers North of there. Officials also said that 40 of the militants were killed and 4 were taken into custody. Also on or about 15 March 2004, the US military delivered food, medical supplies and other assistance to Chad, to support government troops there who had battled suspected terrorists linked to al-Qaida. Two C-130 Hercules cargo planes delivered more than 19 (metric) tons of aid to Chad, including food, blankets, and medical supplies. The rush mission was ordered by the US military’s European Command, following a request from the government of Chad. The aircraft were from the 37th Airlift Squadron based at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Initial statements from the US State Department spokemen indicated that US forces did not participate in either the initial operations in March 2004 or subsequent operations in Chad. However subsequent media reports indicated that US support to Chadian forces included a Navy P-3 aircraft operating from Algeria, possibly from Joint Task Force – Aztec Silence operating in support of Operation Aztec Silence, and roughly 100 American servicemen, possibly Special Forces personnel from 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
In addition, these US supported anti-terror operations in Chad were said to not be related to US aid and assistance provided under the Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI). The PSI was a US Department of State Security Assistance Program focusing on 4 countries in the Sahara region of Africa. The initiative supported US national security interests combating terrorism and enhancing regional peace and security. It directly assisted Mali, Niger, Chad, and Mauritania in protecting their borders and exploiting opportunities to detect and deter terrorists by providing basic training and equipment. It is likely that any continuing effort was folded in with the broader Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) effort that began in June 2005 to support the successor to the PSI, the Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative.
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