Chad gained independence from France on 11 August 1960. To underpin this new status the armed forces were instituted. In the beginning, these consisted only of army and police units but in 1973 a small air force was errected. All the military units are organized along French lines and with predominantly French material and this support continues to the present day. In fact, Chad is still frequently used as staging post for French defence campaigns - most recently in support of Operation Épervier in Mali.