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by 2nd Lt. Erin Dorrance
Thunderbolt Staff Writer
photo by Nick Stubbs
Students gather around instructor Randy Murphy, who goes over last-minute details before they take the plunge.

On Oct. 23, 2001, France stepped in to help fight the war on terrorism by flying hundreds of bombing and reconnaissance missions in Afghanistan. France also sent a team of military professionals to Central Command's Coalition Village.

France's nine man team includes six officers and three non-commissioned officers from the Army, Air Force and Navy. "France has been helping the coalition fight the war on terrorism from the beginning," said French Air Force Brig. Gen. Andre Barriere.

There are more than 4,200 French military personnel operating in Central Command's area of responsibility. France's carrier battle group has flown more than 2,000 hours of reconnaissance and strike missions. France's naval contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom accounts for approximately 24 percent of their entire naval forces.

French engineers also helped construct runways, provided airfield security with police dogs and made major improvements to the Kabul Medical Institute with equipment, books and a new curriculum.

The French detachment at Coalition Village really enjoys being part of the team said General Barriere.

"We are very pleased to be working with the coalition," said General Barriere. "It is also very rewarding for us to work with our American allies."

The French team is very happy to be stationed at MacDill, especially during this time of the year.

"France has already gotten snow so we are very thankful to be in Florida," said General Barriere. "We really enjoy MacDill because we do not have bases like this at home that include shopping, restaurants and all of the great facilities." "We have a great relationship with the French population in Tampa community and we are really enjoying life."




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