General Denis Mercier, Chief of Staff of the French air force, yesterday suggested that the next president of France will make a decision on future involvement in his country’s mission in Iraq. The election for the successor of Francois Hollande is not until 2017.
“The next president will decide if we have to stay or not, but we know we will stay for a long time, and thanks to that we prevent terrorism from going to other countries. This is a presidential decision. So the next end state will be the next presidential decision,” he said. “But I believe we will remain there and keep fighting terrorism there, because if we do not do that, for sure, in a few months terrorism will be in Paris.”
France has 12 jets committed to air strike missions as part of the international coalition. Mercier told a press conference that these jets are vital to ensuring that combined Iraqi security forces are able to take ground back from Islamic State (IS).
“At the present time the main aim, which is a success, is to be sure that Iraqi forces on the ground have freedom of action. Without air power, it is not possible. So for that, we have to maintain a permanent threat to IS, to be sure that the Iraqi forces will have freedom of movement.”
Mercier is soon to leave his post in France to become Supreme Allied Commander Transformation at NATO.