The French Army’s ability to adapt: the example of the Algerian War
by Colonel Thierry Noulens
Scarcely was the conflict in Indochina over than the French Army was facing its second major war of decolonisation, in Algeria, while at the same time maintaining modern forces in NATO. This conflict saw the army and its combat techniques evolve considerably.
A convoy of M8 light armoured cars of the Saharan Motorised Company of Oued R’Hir, in 1956. © Raymond Varoqui/ECPAD/Défense
The cumbersome nature of a NATO army
In November 1954, the troops of General Cherrière, structured and trained according to the NATO model, found themselves at a distinct disadvantage as far as the terrain was concerned, and facing an elusive enemy. Over 20 operations were carried out through the autumn and winter of 1954-55. The main aim of these raids was to give a show of strength, but unfortunately their ineffectiveness earned the General harsh criticism.
All that their heavy hardware could do was hold the country’s few roads, with armoured cars and troop carriers.