Thursday, November 30, 2023

After 100 days of war in Ukraine, France has still not adapted its defense efforts and ambitions

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Like the attack on Poland in 1939 by Nazi Germany, and that of Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese fleet in 1941, the launch of the Russian “special military operation” in Ukraine, February 24, 2022 , took Western leaders by surprise, including in the United States, particularly on the strategic level. Not only did it mark the return of high-intensity warfare, but it involved one of the two most important nuclear powers on the planet. Worse still, it took place not in the Middle East or in an obscure country in the Caucasus, but in Europe, a continent that has largely been preserved in recent decades, at least since the Yugoslav wars. And the least we can say is that this new geopolitical reality had not been anticipated by Western leaders, their armies being, for the most part, neither sized nor organized and equipped to respond to this type of commitment, whether in terms of firepower, resilience or reactivity.

On the very day the aggression began, Bundeswehr Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Alfons Mais , wrote on his LinkedIn page that the German Armies, after 30 years of underinvestment, were not ready to respond to this type of threat, leading the new Chancellor Olaf Scholz to present barely 3 days later to the Bundestag a very ambitious investment plan to quickly give the German armies the capabilities necessary to face the new reality. This is based on an emergency envelope of €100 billion to finance the most critical acquisitions in the short term, including F-35A combat aircraft for NATO's nuclear sharing mission, Typhoon fighters Typhoon ECR for missions to suppress opposing air defenses, CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopters to replace the CH-53 Super Station dating from the 1970s, anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems, armored combat vehicles infantry and more than €20 billion to replenish stocks of ammunition and spare parts that have been largely eroded in recent decades, while increasing funding for the critical European SCAF, MGCS and Eurodrone programs.

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Berlin announced the order for 2 squadrons of F-35A to ensure NATO's shared deterrence mission. This order will be financed by the exceptional investment envelope of €100 billion for the German armies announced by Chancellor Scholz.

This plan, which has yet to receive the approval of the Bundestag but which already has the support of the government coalition but also of the German right of the CDU, plans to maintain the level of German investment in terms of defense for 4 years at its 2022 level (€48 billion), to which will be added an average of €25 billion in exceptional investments per year until 2025, before increasing the budget allocated to La Défense to 2% of German GDP beyond this deadline. Berlin is, however, not the only European capital to have announced a significant change in its policy and its defense ambitions since February 24. In reality, almost all European countries have done the same, with Italy having committed to bringing its spending to 2% of its GDP by 2028 , the Netherlands having done the same, as has Sweden , Spain and the majority of Eastern European countries . Poland , for its part, is now targeting a defense effort of 3% of its GDP, just like Greece. Even Belgium, although NATO's poor student in this area, announced an increase in its defense budget to 1.5% of its GDP, an increase of almost 50% compared to its current level. But one country, and not the least in Europe, is an exception in this area, since France has so far not announced any developments in its defense effort or concerning its ambitions in this area.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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  1. […] The French authorities remained particularly discreet in this area. It is true that the country had undertaken, since 2017, an effort aimed at reversing the curve of investments in Defense, with a Strategic Review and a Military Programming Law (LPM) establishing a linear increase in the budget of the armies by 1, €7 billion per year until 2022, then €3 billion per year in 2023 and 2024. In addition, defense issues were not part of the major campaign themes for the presidential election nor for the legislative elections that followed. , neither on the part of the outgoing president, nor on the part of the oppositions, forming an opaque cover around the subject over the entire period. On the occasion of the Eurosatory 2022 exhibition last June, the newly re-elected President Macron, however, announced that an update of the LPM would be necessary to respond to new defense challenges, confirming that the country should increase its defense effort in the years to come. A week ago, it was the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sebastien Lecornu, who confirmed that the army budget would increase by €3 billion in 2023, thus responding to a recently published Cours de Compte report which warned against the budgetary sustainability of such an effort. […]

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