Éditoriaux Défense Sécurité Terrorisme Zones de conflits Logistique Livres de référence Liens
Terre Air Mer Gendarmerie Renseignement Infoguerre Cyber Recherche

A New Professional Army for France

A New Professional Army for France

What changes (Part 2)

"Our Armed Forces have undergone several reforms over the past ten years, however none has been so ambitious"… : Jacques Chirac, Paris, 23rd February 1996.

In 1998, the defence budget represented 2.19% of the French GDP and 11.65 % of the State budget. Defense statistics 1997. In order to prepare for the construction of a credible European defence, the President of the French Republic announced major reforms in the national defence.

  • Move from conscription to an all-professional army (1997-2015) cutting the size of French forces from 500,000 to 350,000 and emphasising the capacity of deployment.
  • Restructuration of industrial and technological potential, which will largely enter the European context;
  • Abolition of national service;
  • Confirmation of its commitment to the European Corps, made up of 50,000 troops mainly from France and Germany;
  • Nuclear deterrence remains a fundamental element in French defence strategy; henceforth, it will take on an increasingly European dimension.

In 1998, the French armed forces included 548,280 men and women.

France and NATO

On 5 December 1995, the French government announced that it would move closer to some NATO defence and military bodies, from which it moved away in 1966. It will, however, remain outside the integrated military structure.

Because the Alliance has undertaken a review of its structures and modes of operation since 1994 to meet the different security challenges arising since the end of the Cold War, such as the Balkan crisis, France now feels it can take steps to toward reintegration. This decision was followed up by a number of operative proposals such as regular participation in meetings between defence ministers, participation in the "Military Committee", in which armed forces chiefs of staff usually meet, and full participation in the NATO defence colleges.

1. Professional Armed Forces

At present, Military Service is the main form of National Service. As such, it is destined to progressively disappear within the framework of the new Professional Armed Forces, centred on missions of projection. Within the framework of a renewed National Service, a contribution by young men and women to security and defence, particularly within the National Military Police Force and in the Armed Forces, is still envisaged. This contribution would be of a different nature to that of today and further details will be given after the broad debate which is to take place on the future of National Service.

2. A reduction in the size of the Armed Forces

The transition to professional Armed Forces will be accompanied by a 30% reduction in the overall number of staff. The Army will be reduced from 271 500 men to 170 000 men (military and civil staff), divided into 4 Forces which will comprise about 85 regiments instead of 129 at present (the number of regiments in the Army, including support regiments and regiments stationed abroad will be reduced from about 180 to about 110).

The Navy will be reduced from 70 400 men to 56 500 men and will be hinged around the strategic oceanic force, a naval air projection force and sub-marine forces.

The Air Force will be reduced from 94 100 men to 70 000 men and will eventually have at its disposal a fighter aviation fleet comprising 300 modem aircraft of the Rafale type.

3. A reduction in financial contributions to Defence, but France remains on its guard

The financial contribution allocated by the Nation to Defence is to be reduced within the framework of the governmental policy aimed at controlling public expenditure. The new international environment enables this option. Pursuing the evolution launched in 1993, the sums allocated to Defence over the programming and planning period to begin in 1997 were fixed, in accordance with the decisions reached by the Defence Council these past months, at 185 Milliard FRF (constant 1995 FRF). The sums allocated to equipment have been reduced by 18% with regard to the annuities voted in the 1994 programming bill.

Our priority over the next few years will be aimed at the success of professionalisation and the modernisation of the equipment indispensable to the new classic forces.

This budget will maintain France among the leading European countries as far as security and defence are concerned.

4. Newly defined functions for the Armed Forces

The Head of State requires the missions of the Armed Forces to be organised around four major operational functions in order to be in line with the new security context.

Deterrence is maintained at an adequate level, although slightly reduced.

Prevention becomes a new priority.

Projection is to be the major aspect of the means disposed of by the Armed Forces.

Protection is to progress towards a new concept of domestic security.

5. Nuclear deterrence based on two weapons

Conformably with the trends expressed in Spring 1995 by the President of the Republic, the surface weapon of our force of deterrence is to be abandoned. In the future, our strategic forces will be based on a sub-marine component, constituted by a new generation of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile armed submarines (SNLE/NG) and a new strategic missile (M-51) and on an airborne component centred around a new missile (improved Middle Range Air-Surface missile (ASMP)).

Sites which were profoundly representative of the first phase of French deterrence are to be progressively closed : the Albion plateau, the plants in Pierrelatte and in Marcoule, the Pacific Test Centre.

6. A restructured Defence industry

The Defence industry is to be substantially adapted to suit the new-style Defence. Its structures are to be modernised in order to take into account management factors and to continue the construction of European armament.

Sources: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence

French Embassies in London and Washington.

For more information, go to French National Defense.


Derniers articles

Verdun 2016 : La légende de la « tranchée des baïonnettes »
Eyes in the Dark: Navy Dive Helmet Display Emerges as Game-Changer
OIR Official: Captured Info Describes ISIL Operations in Manbij
Cyber, Space, Middle East Join Nuclear Triad Topics at Deterrence Meeting
Carter Opens Second DoD Innovation Hub in Boston
Triomphe de St-Cyr : le Vietnam sur les rangs
Dwight D. Eisenhower Conducts First OIR Missions from Arabian Gulf
L’amiral Prazuck prend la manœuvre de la Marine
Airmen Practice Rescuing Downed Pilots in Pacific Thunder 16-2
On ne lutte pas contre les moustiques avec une Kalachnikov...
Enemy Mine: Underwater Drones Hunt Buried Targets, Save Lives
Daesh Publications Are Translated Into Eleven Languages
Opération Chammal : 10 000 heures de vol en opération pour les Mirage 2000 basés en Jordanie
Le Drian : Daech : une réponse à plusieurs niveaux
Carter: Defense Ministers Agree on Next Steps in Counter-ISIL Fight
Carter Convenes Counter-ISIL Coalition Meeting at Andrews
Carter Welcomes France’s Increased Counter-ISIL Support
100-Plus Aircraft Fly in for Exercise Red Flag 16-3
Growlers Soar With B-1s Around Ellsworth AFB
A-10s Deploy to Slovakia for Cross-Border Training
We Don’t Fight Against Mosquitoes With a Kalashnikov
Bug-Hunting Computers to Compete in DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge
Chiefs of US and Chinese Navies Agree on Need for Cooperation
DoD Cyber Strategy Defines How Officials Discern Cyber Incidents from Armed Attacks
Vice Adm. Tighe Takes Charge of Information Warfare, Naval Intelligence
Truman Strike Group Completes Eight-Month Deployment
KC-46 Completes Milestone by Refueling Fighter Jet, Cargo Plane
Air Dominance and the Critical Role of Fifth Generation Fighters
Une nation est une âme
The Challenges of Ungoverned Spaces
Carter Salutes Iraqi Forces, Announces 560 U.S. Troops to Deploy to Iraq
Obama: U.S. Commitment to European Security is Unwavering in Pivotal Time for NATO
International Court to Decide Sovereignty Issue in South China Sea
La SPA 75 est centenaire !
U.S. to Deploy THAAD Missile Battery to South Korea
Maintien en condition des matériels : reprendre l’initiative
La veste « léopard », premier uniforme militaire de camouflage
Océan Indien 2016 : Opérations & Coopération
Truman Transits Strait of Gibraltar
Navy Unveils National Museum of the American Sailor
New Navy, Old Tar
Marcel Dassault parrain de la nouvelle promotion d’officiers de l’École de l’Air
RIMPAC 2016 : Ravitaillement à la mer pour le Prairial avant l’arrivée à Hawaii
Bataille de la Somme, l’oubliée
U.S., Iceland Sign Security Cooperation Agreement
Cléopatra : la frégate Jean Bart entre dans l’histoire du BPC Gamal Abdel Nasser
Surveiller l’espace maritime français aussi par satellite
America's Navy-Marine Corps Team Fuse for RIMPAC 2016
Stratégie France : Plaidoyer pour une véritable coopération franco-allemande
La lumière du Droit rayonne au bout du chemin

Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).