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Beginning Of The Challe Plan

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Ithri

Ithri

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18 April 1959

At the end of 1958, De Gaulle fired General Raoul Salan and appointed Maurice Challe, a trusted member of the French air force, at the head of the French Army in Algeria. De Gaulle thought Challe would find a way to end the ALN military actions in DZ.

Challe didn't wait long before setting up his plan. It consisted in removing his Army units from fixed bases and gathering them in a specific zone in which they would freewheel in search of ALN members. They would kill the fighters they find, fetch for weapons stocks and kill the FLN/ALN administrative and logistics teams. Once a zone is "pacified" they would move to another one and so on.
At the same time he used the aviation and artillery to besiege the defined zones, bomb them and block the ways in and out.

And in order to execute his plan, Challe decided to:
- Create around 200 special forces groups. They were small and lightly armed units with the objective of following the ALN traces and uncovering their positions. They moved like ALN members by night and in the mountains. And were composed in 25 to 40% of Algerian traitors who wore ALN outfits.
- Improve the Morice electrified line. Challe placed an emphasis on securing the borders with Tunisia and Morocco. He noticed the failure of the Morice line so decided to reinforce it with another parallel line (Challe line). These two lines were supposed to prevent the ALN members from getting in out of DZ.
- Create forbidden zones. They were 70km large inside the Algerian territory on the border with Tunisia and were supposed to be free of ALN members.
- Create concentration camps. 2500 centres were created and tens of thousands Algerians were put inside them. They couldn't go out and suffered from famine, repression and "hard labour". The aim of these centres was to isolate the ALN from the population who used to give them food and shelter. And to force the civilians go into these centres, the French burnt many (around 8000) villages. At the end of the Challe Plan, around 3 million Algerians were put in these centres.

Challe relied on the Algerian traitors. He knew his plan wouldn't work if the locals didn't help the French by providing information and surveillance. So he used el harka and also Algerian soldiers whom he promoted to officers in the French army.
He also relied on the fifth bureau which was specialized in propaganda and psychological influence. They made audio and video documents which they spread among the Algerian people in order to show them how good it was to side with the French etc. This bureau also practiced "scientific" torture methods such as torturing parents in presence of their children, etc.

Many battles and operations took place within the Challe Plan. I could mention the Courroie Operation and also the "Jumelles" Operation which targetted the Kabylie. The French benefited of the American support who gave them new modern weapons and bombs.

All these operations had a relative military success: 1600 to 3500 moudjahidine were killed, 460 captured, and ammunition and other supplies were seized.
But the whole plan was a political failure mainly because of the concentration camps where torture was practiced against the civilians. The world heard of these human-rights abuses and the GPRA wisely spread the information, which ruined even more the reputation of colonialist France and global opinion turned against it.
Un homme se leva et demanda permission d'appeler les fidèles à la prière.
Permission lui fût donnée:
- Vous pouvez les appeler, tant que vous les appelez à Dieu et non à vous-même.
- Mais comment saurais-je la différence?
- Si ça vous dérange que quelqu'un d'autre les appelle à Dieu, c'est que vous les appelez à vous-même.