The French armed forces are today more in demand than ever

Barely beginning their capacity reconstruction, after 20 years of budgetary restrictions having severely dented their operational potential, the French armed forces are subjected, at the start of 2020, to operational pressure of an intensity never reached since. the first Gulf War, in 1991, when the French armies had twice as much equipment and men as they do today.

Even with the stated ambitions of the 2019-2025 Military Programming Law, this pressure, which shows no signs of easing, calls for a rapid reassessment of the means allocated to the armed forces to be ready to face the probable scenarios of the years future.

The French armed forces deploy 600 additional men for Barkhane

The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, confirmed on Sunday February 2 the sending of 600 additional men to reinforce the 4500 French soldiers of Operation Barkhane in Mali and in the south-Saharan zone. The numbers thus deployed by the French armies for Operation Barkhane alone will be proportionally equal to those of the Daguet division in Saudi Arabia in 1990 and 1991, when the armies fielded 300.000 career personnel and 250.000 conscripts. These additional personnel, mainly provided by the Army, will make it possible to increase the French presence on a territory as large as continental Europe.

Beyond the numbers, the equipment undergoes a much faster degradation because of their projection in external operations. Thus, an armored vehicle or a helicopter deployed on an external mission deteriorates more rapidly in a ratio of 1 to 3 compared to “normal” use.

However, the air fleet of the Army's Light Aviation, the ALAT, but also that concerning certain motorized components such as artillery or combat tanks, are designed as accurately as possible for low-intensity use. Thus, certain types of armored vehicles, such as the Light Armored Vehicle, or VBL, of the Army, have reached the age of retirement from service prematurely, due to their significant use in External Operations, but their replacement is not is still not planned.

In fact, despite the entry into service of new equipment, the Army does not manage to re-capitalize its forces, and even, on the contrary, continues to see its operational potential diminish over time.

The French armed forces call on the CH-47 chinook of the Royal Air Force in Mali
The Royal Air Force CH-47 Chinooks deployed in Mali in support of Operation Barkhane provide very useful mobility capabilities to the French forces.

French forces are in a paradoxical situation in the region, with rapidly growing anti-French sentiment, aided by a media often manipulated by Moscow, Beijing and local interests, while governments and local armed forces , fail to deal with the jihadist forces present.

Some European countries have also deployed personnel and resources to support the French effort. In particular, the Royal Air Force's CH-47 Chinook heavy helicopters provide air mobility capabilities that the French forces do not have. Estonia has also deployed a combat unit of around sixty men, a way for Tallinn to thank France for the deployment of its air and land forces as part of NATO reassurance operations.

The French Navy on all fronts

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