The streets of Paris are flooded with thousands of soldiers as half the French military is deployed to protect the country from further terrorist attacks.
French President Francois Hollande immediately put the country in a state of emergency after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. Five months later, 10,000 soldier continue to patrol streets around the country to avoid a third attack in just over a year.
“It’s an operation like all the anti-terrorism measures, a combat measure,” Col Benoît Brulon, spokesman for Operation Sentinelle in the Paris region, told The Guardian. “We’re engaged in a conflict, a war, in which we fight against terrorists. We’re not just here to be visible – even if that visibility helps the resilience of the nation.”
The soldiers patrol 830 tourist sites, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, as well as synagogues and crowded places. The measure is part of the so-called Operation Sentinelle, which was put in place after the January 2015 attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The increased military presence, however, didn’t prevent another attack months later. Hollande decided to deploy more soldiers after the March 22 bombings in Brussels.
Metro News reports that the soldiers sometimes live in tents and are forced to sign up for gym memberships just to be able to take showers. The French people are generally supportive of the soldiers, but feel the operation itself comes at a high price, according to reports.
The soldiers work 18-hour shifts and have little to no time to see family during their deployment.
“I’ve seen unsanitary rooms you wouldn’t give to the homeless or refugees,” French soldier Xavier told France Info. “There are rats and water leakage.”
Xavier added that soldiers who signed up after the attacks would likely want to leave once they find what they’ve gotten themselves into.
Operation Sentinelle will continue through the summer and currently comes at a cost of more than $1 million per day.
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