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French Armed Forces in Numbers


French Armed Forces in Numbers


Source: Embassy of France in the United States, Washington D.C., July 8, 2004.


  • 2004 Defense Budget : 32.4 billion euros (+4.3% from 2003 to 2004, +7.5% from 2002 to 2003)


The total number of personnel working for the defense department is 438,000, of which 356,000 are military, all professional and 82,000 civilians. The Army comprises 38 percent (132,000 active military), the Navy - 12 percent (42,500 active military), the Air Force - 16 percent (64,000 active military), the Gendarmerie - 23 percent, and joint services -11 percent.


  • Today, about 34.000 troops are deployed overseas out of which 11.000 are participating in peace-keeping operations :


- in Ivory Coast 4,300,


- in Kosovo 2,650 (14% of KFOR),


- in Afghanistan 1,500 (9% of ISAF) including the contributions to the training of the new Afghan army, and those to Enduring Freedom on the ground (special forces), at sea (3 frigates, 1 tanker and 1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft) or in the air (2 transport aircraft)


- in Bosnia-Herzegovina 550 (11% of SFOR)


- 650 military and police observers, staff or support personnel in various multinational peace operations (200 within UNOCI in Ivory Coast, 200 (10% UNIFIL) in Lebanon UNMIK in Kosovo, MINURSO in the Western Sahara, MFO in the Sinai, UNTSO in Israel, MONUC in the Democratic Republic of Congo, UNOMIG in Georgia, UNMIL in Liberia, UNMEE at the boarder between Eritrea and Ethiopia, ONUB in Burundi, EUMM and EUPM in Bosnia Herzegovina and EUPOL in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia),


- in Africa, 1,000 troops in Chad and 200 in the Central African Republic contribute, at the invitation of both governments, to the stability of these countries and to the training of their armed forces for peace-keeping operations.


  • 2) At the end of the summer, France will have commanding officers in three NATO operations


Having recently terminated its contribution to the multinational interim force in Haiti (870 military : 24% of MIFH) and taking the command of three NATO operations, France is going to increase its deployments in the coming months.


In August, the EUROCORPS, at that time under the command of a French officer, Lieutenant General Py, will assume the command of ISAF. Concurrently, the Franco-German brigade will take charge of the multinational brigade-Kabul. The French contribution to ISAF will then amount to about 1,000, making France the second largest partner of the United States in Afghanistan.


In September, another French general will take command of a second major NATO operation, KFOR in Kosovo. Additionally, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the SFOR reorganization will compel France to assign a colonel at the head of one of the three multinational Task Forces. In the Balkans, France is the third largest contributor to NATO operations after Germany and Italy.


  • 3) With 34,000 troops overseas, France is a major US partner in advancing security throughout the world


In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, France offered its military resources and capabilities to support the American-led military campaign in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom). Immediately, the exchanges of information between our naval commanders increased, particularly in the Indian Ocean, thus intensifying the fight against all types of trafficking.


Today, the French Navy continues to patrol the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman. It has been monitoring commercial sea-lanes, detecting and boarding suspicious vessels as well as escorting coalition boats through the area since December 2001. France is the second largest contributor to the maritime task force in charge of this mission. This TF is commanded, for the second time by a French admiral on behalf of EUROMARFOR, a European grouping of naval forces.


On the broader aspect of international security, France is also working closely with the US military on controlling proliferation and drug trafficking. The French armed forces in the Caribbean are closely coordinating with the US Joint Inter Agency Task Force South to counter drug trafficking. The 7000 French troops in the French Caribbean and Guyana have a major role in this matter. They also made up the bulk of the French contribution to the multinational interim force in Haiti.


Regarding proliferation, following President Bush’s initiative, France became a full partner of the Proliferation Security Initiative, offering intellectual contributions such as an exercise on the air control aspect, as well as contributions to, and organization of naval exercises. The French Navy also led a PSI exercise code named Basilic, in Toulon last year.


The French forces present in the Pacific region and the Southern Indian Ocean (10,000) are controlling sea lanes of communications and important areas for the preservation of natural wealth. They are also able to assist countries of the region facing conflicts or natural disasters such as the East Timor crisis or typhoons in Madagascar.


Over the past years, France has also been and is still involved in operations in Africa, hence contributing to the international security and stability. Last summer, France had been, at the request of the UN secretary general, the lead nation under the European Union flag, for a peace making operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today, under the UN mandate given by resolution 1464, we continue to deploy 4,500 military, alongside a UN force, in Ivory Coast, at the request of the parties, to help bring trust between them and implement the long-term political settlement. At the start of the conflict, the French forces evacuated civilians of different nationalities, among them a large number of American citizens. We conducted the same type of non combatant evacuation operation in Liberia, saving other American lives a few months latter, in close coordination with American forces.


5,000 additional French troops are stationed in various African countries (Djibouti, Gabon and Senegal) under bilateral agreements. Through their presence and their training programs, they contribute to peace and security on the continent.


Additionally, the French Armed Forces are heavily engaged in homeland France in security missions. The totality of the Gendarmerie (100,000), with the very small exceptions of participations in international peace operations, participates in that effort alongside its policing role. Moreover, 1,250 personnel from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are involved in securing major public facilities, the maritime approaches and the national airspace.


  • 4) French contribution in Afghanistan


From October 21, 2001, French reconnaissance aircraft and air tankers have contributed to the air campaign over Afghanistan. They were reinforced from the winter of 2001 to the summer of 2002, by French naval aviation forces and French Air Force transport planes and fighters. France was indeed the only country, along with the United States, to have flown bombing missions over Afghanistan, in direct support of American ground troops, in particular during operation Anaconda. From October 23, 2001, to September 30, 2002, a total of 12,000 flying hours were conducted in support of operations in Afghanistan by the French Mirage IV reconnaissance aircraft, the C135 tankers, the C160 and C130 transports, the E2C and Super Etendard from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, and the Mirage 2000D strike aircraft. The Mirage 2000D and Super Etendard destroyed 33 targets linked to Al Qaeda or the Talibans in direct support of American Special Forces. Today, 130 military are based in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, helping to operate the airport and supporting 2 transport aircraft engaged in the support of the French contingent in Afghanistan.


French forces arrived early on the ground. From December 2, 2001 to January 27, 2002, a reinforced company secured in Mazar-e-Sharif the detachment of US engineers repairing the airfield in order to fly in humanitarian assistance. In total, some 5,500 French soldiers were sent to the region. Today, 200 special troops are involved alongside American troops in the fight against the remnants of the Talibans in Southern Afghanistan.


Today, France is still largely involved in Afghanistan. Now, 540 French troops are deployed in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force, whose duty is to maintain security at the Kabul airport and its surroundings. And France is also playing a significant role in training the new Afghan army, alongside the US and the United Kingdom, having organized three battalions of 500 men and being presently involved in the training of all Afghan officers.


With the Navy contribution to OEF, a total of 1,470 French troops are involved in the stabilization of Afghanistan. They will amount to 1,820 with the arrival of Eurocorps in Kabul during the summer.

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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).