It is an understatement to say that comfort is still rudimentary at Cincu, this small Romanian base located in the middle of the hilly slopes of the Carpathians, destined to become the main French military hold on the eastern flank of Europe. Some of the approximately 750 soldiers who are now deployed there alongside 150 Belgians and Dutch in rotation are still housed in tents. The water network is experiencing a number of failures, and there is still a lack of a real place d’armes.
But no one among the officers welcoming the Minister for the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, who came to inaugurate the premises on Thursday, November 3, tries to hide the logistical challenge that the development of this vast clay terrain represents since the spring. “It may seem paradoxical, but it was almost easier in the Sahel”, summarizes a grade. Of the 485 current bungalows in the camp, more than 360 have come directly from Niger, where France completed its withdrawal from Mali in August.
In a Romania certainly very demanding of military reinforcements, but very finicky about its sovereignty, the French were forced to pay attention to local companies in their calls for tenders for their works. If Cincu has the virtues of rusticity for “high intensity” war training, its isolation and the poor condition of the two bridges to cross to achieve it have complicated the transport of heavy equipment.
Another problem rediscovered by the armies during the development of this new base: the lack of uniformity in the rules for crossing European borders for military equipment. An old problem whose Leclerc tanks, promised by the Head of State on October 13, are the first to have paid the price. While Paris wanted, at the bend of this announcement, to demonstrate its speed of deployment, it has so far only been able to send, by road, its armored combat and infantry vehicles – around ten.
The Leclerc tanks, themselves, also around ten, were, according to our information, opposed to a categorical refusal of transit by road on the part of Germany. And this, under tonnage limitations applying even to the Bundeswehr. It is therefore by train that the Leclercs should soon leave France, around November 10. A longer journey than by road, and which should again take several days, due to a lack of transit facilities.
While the air or sea route was until now France’s main means of logistical deployment in external operations, the “Aigle” operation in Romania and the war in Ukraine are pushing the armies to rediscover land transport, in particular rail, as the Russians can do for their effort scales. The Directorate General for Armaments also made a new request for information on this subject, in mid-October. It estimates that the armies would need 250 additional specialized wagons by 2029 – out of a fleet of currently 500.
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