LPM 2023: the Army at a crossroads

If the next Military Planning Law, which will be designed in the coming months to come into force from 2023, will have a lot to do to meet the capacity and technological challenges of the 3 armies, it is likely that it will take on a very special dimension for Land Force. Indeed, beyond trivial subjects such as the recapitalization of stocks of ammunition and spare parts essential to the conduct of a high-intensity military action over time, this will also have to answer an essential or even existential question, namely the role that France wants to give it in the conflicts and confrontations to come. As such, several areas of development are possible in the present context, taking into account the constraints that apply to this army and its own characteristics, each having its own justifications and assets.

The French Army in 2022

Often criticized and even sometimes mocked for its lack of thickness, the French Army in 2022 is nonetheless an armed force of great homogeneity, designed to respond to many operational scenarios, as they were considered only a few months ago. Its armed arm, the Force Opérationnelle Terrestre or FOT, is made up of 2 divisions, themselves made up of 3 brigades each, an armed heavy brigade for armored combat, a medium brigade for infantry combat, and a light brigade for airborne, amphibious or mountainous actions. In total, the FOT now lines up 77.000 men and women, 220 heavy tanks, 650 infantry fighting and VBCI command vehicles, 120 mobile artillery systems, 250 light tanks, 3000 armored personnel carriers including many are specialized, 400 engineering vehicles, 2500 light armored vehicles, 8500 logistics vehicles and 270 combat helicopters. In many respects, it outclasses the majority of NATO armies, for example with an armored transport rate of 10 soldiers per tank, where the average within NATO is 30 soldiers per tank.

Armeeterre High Intensity Military Alliances | Defense Analysis | Artillery
The Army has only 220 Leclerc tanks, of which 200 will be modernized in the coming months, but it has a very large number of armored vehicles by NATO standards.

Beyond its equipment, a large part of which is being replaced through the SCORPION program, or modernization, the Army has personnel seasoned by numerous external operations, trained and perfectly supervised, making it an armed force both effective and particularly responsive. However, because of the doctrine that prevailed in the 2000s and 2010s, strongly tinged with the constraints linked to engagements in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Army concentrated most of its means in its deployable components adapted to this type of engagement, to the detriment of so-called High Intensity engagement, i.e. facing an adversary potentially having symmetrical means, and in particular armored forces, artillery and air means . At that time, the French authorities considered that deterrence was sufficient to prevent this type of conflict near the French borders, ignoring, voluntarily or not, certain signs such as the rapid rearmament of certain countries, or military actions by these countries against their neighbours.

To attenuate the effects of these decisions and allow the armies to increase in power more quickly, the General Staff took the part of preserving critical know-how within dedicated units, certainly well below what would be necessary to engage effectively in this type of conflict, but sufficiently dimensioned to carry out their mission and possibly play a limited role in the event of engagement. This is particularly the case of the tank component, which today only aligns 220 tanks divided into 3 cuirassier regiments and a few cavalry units, but also pontooning and breaching capabilities, in the field of electronic warfare or close anti-aircraft defense. In addition, because of its format, it is only able to deploy within the framework of NATO a division composed of 2 brigades and a staff capable of commanding an army corps of 60.000 men. . In addition, for many critical areas such as logistics and intelligence, the French corps, like its allies, will depend on support from NATO, and in particular from the United States.

Hypothesis 1: Vertical extension of engagement capabilities


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