Ten Thousand Soldiers In ‘Operation Sentinelle’ Patrol Paris Streets Watching For ISIS

Operation Sentinelle, in which combat troops patrol streets and protect key sites – from synagogues to art galleries, nursery schools to mosques and Métro stations – is the army’s first wide-scale peacetime military operation on mainland France.
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Operation Sentinelle, in which combat troops patrol streets and protect key sites – from synagogues to art galleries, nursery schools to mosques and Métro stations – is the army’s first wide-scale peacetime military operation on mainland France.

On the cobbled alleyways of Montmartre, as a busker warbled La Vie en Rose and street artists painted watercolours of the view over Paris, Master Corporal Jean-Claude had been up since dawn leading a platoon of soldiers on patrol in full camouflage and flak jackets with fingers resting lightly near the triggers of their assault rifles.

“Our mission is to protect, dissuade and reassure,” he said in clipped tones, as his men from the 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment, normally based in Brittany, snaked past pavement cafes, tour groups and couples kissing, scanning all around for bombs or terrorists.

A young man leapt forward to ask for a selfie with the bizarre, yet now commonplace, sight of combat troops on the streets of Paris. “Sorry, rules don’t allow it,” said a senior officer who had spent most of his career serving in difficult war zones he was not allowed to name.

Children stared open-mouthed at the guns. Locals smiled and the occasional tourist came forward to ask for directions to famous landmarks. “I’m not from Paris but I’m slowly getting to know the place and I always try to help,” said a heavily armed junior soldier who grew up in rural Normandy.

After last year’s terrorist attacks on Paris, the president, François Hollande, declared that France was at war and swiftly saturated the streets of main cities with soldiers standing guard in full military fatigues to make people feel more secure. The now permanent presence of thousands of soldiers in khaki across the capital and major cities has transformed the image and mood of France.

Operation Sentinelle, in which combat troops patrol streets and protect key sites – from synagogues to art galleries, nursery schools to mosques and Métro stations – is the army’s first wide-scale peacetime military operation on mainland France.

Sentinelle was launched after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris in January 2015. But after November’s attacks that killed 130 people, Hollande increased the presence to 10,000 troops across the nation, with about 6,500 of them in the Paris area.

But while 79% of French people approve of Sentinelle in a country with a very positive view of its army, political opposition on the right and left has begun to question not the soldiers themselves but the government’s use of the military. Political commentators and ex-military figures have started to query whether deploying soldiers in what one rightwing senator called a mere security guard role is an efficient use of a highly trained – and now highly stretched – army.

The constant presence of camouflage uniforms everywhere from quiet neighbourhood streets to Métro carriages, patrolling past schools at home-time or milling through markets, has transformed the cityscape – and the relationship of the French to their soldiers. People now bring hot drinks and food offerings to men in military fatigues at the end of their street. The elite troops of the foreign legion are invited into a bar mitzvah in a street of synagogues that they normally guard. There are now military medals for serving on the streets of French towns and many more young people applying to join the army. source

NTEB is run by end times author and editor-in-chief Geoffrey Grider. Geoffrey runs a successful web design company, and is a full-time minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to running NOW THE END BEGINS, he has a dynamic street preaching outreach and tract ministry team in Saint Augustine, FL.
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