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Habré's Return to Power and Second Libyan Intervention, 1982-84

Figure 10. Areas of Fighting, 1980-87

Goukouni's army, weakened by defections and dissension and no longer benefiting from Libya's help, could not prevent Habré's advance. By the end of 1981, Habré had retaken Abéché, Faya Largeau, and other key points (see fig. 10). Following sharp fighting in the outskirts of N'Djamena, Habré entered the capital on June 7, 1982.

After initially fleeing the country, Goukouni returned to gather his forces around Bardaï in the far north. Numbering some 3,000 to 4,000, his troops included the remnants of the CDR, FAP, FAT, the First Liberation Army, the Volcan Forces, and the Western Armed Forces (Forces Armées Occidentales--FAO) (see Appendix B). Regrouped as the National Liberation Army (Armée Nationale de Libération--ANL), they were trained and equipped by the Libyans. Negué Djogo, a French-trained officer from the south, was placed in command.

When formed in January 1983, Habré's new FANT had an estimated strength of 10,000; the force consisted of a core of 6,000 members from FAN and 4,000 troops absorbed from other factions. Arrayed against it were Goukouni's coalition forces buttressed by Libyan units and the Islamic Legion, which had crossed back into northern Chad. Together, these forces amounted to about 12,000 troops. Returning to the offensive, Goukouni's army was able to take Faya Largeau in June 1983, following a devastating Libyan air bombardment. Continuing southward, Goukouni's army captured Kalait and Oum Chalouba; however, by the time it reached Abéché on July 8, 1983, severing Habré's supply line to Sudan, it had become overextended.

As the rebels advanced, aided by the poorly concealed participation of Libya, Habré made insistent appeals for international help. Rejecting direct intervention, France was prepared to go no further than airlifting arms and fuel. Zaire flew in a detachment of paratroopers, eventually furnishing about 2,000 men. Deployed chiefly around N'Djamena, they freed Chadian troops to fight the rebels. The United States announced that US$25 million in critically needed equipment would be provided (see United States Military Aid , this ch.). In a desperate effort to turn the tide, Habré took personal command of FANT, driving Goukouni's army out of Abéché four days after the city's fall, recapturing Faya Largeau on July 30, 1983, and sweeping on to retake other points in the north.

Faced with the collapse of the offensive spearheaded by Goukouni's army, Qadhaafi increased his commitment of forces in Chad. Preceded by intensive strikes by ground attack fighters and bombers, a large Libyan armored force drove FANT out of Faya Largeau on August 10. The Libyan contingent of 4,000 to 5,000 troops was heavily equipped and included tanks and armored personnel carriers, supported by long-range self-propelled artillery and multiple rocket launchers.

In response to the introduction of the Libyan mechanized battalions, which led to the fall of Faya Largeau, the French reluctantly agreed to a renewal of direct involvement. They contributed a round-the-clock airlift of supplies and 180 French military advisers. A much larger troop commitment soon followed. The French force eventually totaled 3,500 air force, Foreign Legion, and airborne personnel in what was designated as Operation Manta (Stingray). The first contingents were deployed north of N'Djamena at points on the two possible routes of advance on the capital. Fighter aircraft and antitank helicopters were dispatched to Chad to discourage an attack on N'Djamena. As the French buildup proceeded, forward positions were established roughly along the parallel of 16 north latitude, which the French tried to maintain as the line separating the combatants.

In 1983 Goukouni's forces and their Libyan allies continued to occupy virtually all of Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Prefecture. Meanwhile, Libya was rapidly building new airstrips in southern Libya and in the Aozou Strip to provide support to Libyan forces and its Chadian allies. Protracted bilateral and multilateral negotiations eventually were successful in producing agreement on a simultaneous withdrawal of French and Libyan forces. Within the stipulated period of two months, on November 10, 1984, the French withdrawal was completed. But evidence provided by United States satellite photographs made it apparent that Qadhafi had violated his commitment by not removing his troops from Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Prefecture. Although French president François Mitterrand confronted Qadhafi over his actions at a hastily arranged conference, he failed to obtain the Libyan leader's compliance.

Data as of December 1988

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