The LPM does not address high-intensity combat requirements

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The French Military Programming Law 2019-2025 undoubtedly marks a profound break with the 30 years of deflation of the armed forces following the collapse of the Soviet bloc, by restoring, in an approach considered reasonable, the financial means necessary for the armies to support their current format. 

That said, and contrary to a widely held idea among the political class, this LPM is very far from giving the armed forces the means to carry out their missions. On the one hand, its progressiveness induces a postponed start of numerous programs, such as the HIL program to replace light army helicopters, although considered a priority, and the first deliveries of which will not take place until 2028.

Thus, many programs have been limited or delayed in order to respect the overall financial envelope allocated, notwithstanding the critical operational need. This is the case with planes Rafale, FTI frigates, offshore patrol boats, NH90 helicopters and army armored vehicles.

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But even once all of these programs have been executed, the French armies will always respect the format established by the 2013 White Paper. And it is precisely this format that General Lecointre rightly describes it as a peacetime army.

Because the White Paper was written at the height of the momentum towards "the benefits of Peace", i.e. before the annexation of Crimea and the Donbass crisis, the militarization of the China Sea, or the interventions in Mali and in the Central African Republic.

In fact, in 2013, the idea prevailed that France no longer needed a military force for so-called high-intensity combat between States, and that the perimeter of Defense was therefore limited to a projectable expeditionary force. , based on a nuclear deterrent that was itself reduced, since the number of nuclear submarines permanently launching ballistic missiles at sea was reduced from 2 to a single unit.

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In the logic of this paradigm, the number of Leclerc tanks was reduced to 200 examples, enough to equip 4 regiments, and the number of combat aircraft to 225, so as to be able to project 15 aircraft permanently. In 2018, the Air Force planned more than 20 aircraft on average over the year, not counting the naval aviation aircraft themselves deployed. In addition, all military actions were only considered within the framework of a coalition, which posed significant problems when it came to the logistical means available during Serval, for example.

But above all, the geopolitical situation has evolved considerably since 2013. Not that the warning signs were not perceptible before that date, but it must be admitted that they were less obvious. 

The rise in power of the military forces of several countries has, in a few years, brought to the forefront hypotheses which seemed relegated to the history books, such as the possibility of a major conflict in Central Europe, of an air-naval conflict in the Pacific, or the return of the nuclear threat.

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If we compare ourselves only to Russia, France only has 200 modern heavy tanks compared to 2800 on the Russian side. In addition, the Russian Forces receive between 200 and 300 new units each year, whereas France only plans to expand its fleet from 2035 (Russia will field more than 6000 tanks by this date). The same goes for fighter planes, bombers, drones, artillery and aircraft defense systems, etc. While it has a GDP almost 50% higher than Russia, and a population only half the size, French forces are outnumbered by Russian forces in a ratio varying between 1/5 to 1/10. 

Unfortunately, the same is true throughout Europe, to the point that Russia is today far superior militarily to all European forces combined. 

Beyond the necessary strict application of the LPM, which is more than essential to avoid the pure and simple collapse of French military power like what is happening today in Germany, it will therefore be necessary, in the near future, to carry out a global and exhaustive reflection on the military needs of the French forces with and without the European perimeter, so as to be able to ensure the effective defense of the national territory, and its interests. 

It should be noted that this reflection would greatly benefit from being carried out jointly by Germany, and by the European countries actually wishing to achieve the strategic autonomy of which President Macron speaks, so as to be able to provide a coordinated and ambitious response. , guarantor of peace on the continent.

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