“An army of samples”. This phrase has been used on numerous occasions to define the French Armies and their capabilities. However, it is not in the least relevant, because it suggests that all of its components have been undersized below a threshold guaranteeing their effectiveness. If it is true that 200 Leclerc tanks and 77 CAESAR guns are insufficient to undertake a major conflict under acceptable conditions, other capabilities, in the air, naval or projection forces domain, are for their part dimensioned in order to respond needs to. As for French deterrence, if it may appear insufficiently equipped in the face of the evolution of threats in recent months, it is clear that it was so during the 30 years following the collapse of the Soviet bloc, in a bygone period that historians will probably call it "Post Cold War", hoping that it will not be called "Pre-something very unpleasant".
In the present context, however, the French armies pale in certain areas, while other of our less fortunate European neighbors are making considerable efforts to be able to contain the threat represented by some 3,000 heavy tanks and 1,500 pieces of ammunition. artillery and multiple rocket launchers that the Russian armies will have at their disposal in 2030, in any event. Thus, Poland, with a GDP equivalent to a third of that of France, plans to equip itself with 6 heavy divisions fielding Leopard 2, Abrams and K2 Black Panther tanks , and supported by some 800 mobile artillery systems under Krabs and K9 Thunder armor, as well as by 500 HIMARS and K239 multiple rocket launchers, where current planning plans to equip the French armies with 200 Leclercs, 120 Caesar cannons and around fifteen Multiple rocket launchers or units at this deadline.
While the design of the new Military Programming Law will begin in the coming weeks to come into force in 2023, and in the budgetary context that we know for France, with a severely deteriorated sovereign debt following the Covid pandemic, a budget deficit above the thresholds authorized by the Eurozone Stability Pact and burdened by the cost of the tariff shield protecting the French from a large part of the explosion in energy prices, and that the growth prospects are revised downwards against the backdrop of the energy crisis, is it relevant or even effective to maintain the French ambition of having a global army inherited from Gaullism, or should we, as the British wish to do, accept certain abandonments capabilities in order to concentrate resources and men on the capabilities with the greatest potential for effectiveness, to defend the nation and its interests, alone or in coalition?
The French armies from 1945 to today
The French Armies emerged from the Second World War very weakened, despite the victorious status granted to France at the insistence of the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. However, after a short period marked above all by a significant pacifist movement, the French authorities began at the end of the 1940s to reconstitute these armies, both to respond to the looming colonial wars and to face the Soviet threat. The 1950s were the subject of a very important effort by Paris to restore major operational capabilities to the French armies, while massively developing the national defense industry, with the emergence of big names in the defense industry. such as Avions Marcel Dassault, Thomson and Matra. In all areas, France is investing to regain a certain strategic autonomy, including through a discreet but ambitious nuclear program. The defeat of Dien Bien Phu in Indochina, then the pitiful conclusion of the Suez affair in 1956, finally convinced the French leaders of the need to equip themselves with a global army, and proven defense autonomy vis-à-vis towards the United States.
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