Is the operational contract presented by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sebastien Lecornu, on the sidelines of the vote of the LPM 2024-2030, consistent with the format of the armies resulting from the application of this LPM? It's far from obvious...
While the Defense Commission of the National Assembly amended and validated the draft Military Programming Law 2024-2030, adding in particular the obligation for the State to guarantee the €13 billion in exceptional revenue in the financing plan, the Minister for the Armed Forces, partly exasperated by the numerous criticisms of the "lack of ambition" of this LPM which yet will see, and by far, the most significant budgetary growth for the Armed Forces for 30 years, insisted on specifying what the objectives were, particularly in terms of the operational contract.
This is how in a Tweet on his account, Sebastien Lecornu wanted to detail the main operational contract entrusted to the 3 armies. For the Army, it will be a question of being able to deploy a division composed in particular of 2 combat brigades, as well as all the command capacities to supervise an Army Corps, in accordance with the attributions of the France on the southern European front within NATO.
The French Navy, for its part, will have to be able to deploy its carrier battle group organized around the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and then its successor. Finally, the Air and Space Force, for its part, will have to be able to deploy a squadron composed in particular of 40 combat aircraft.
The objectives thus defined seem perfectly in line with France's commitments, particularly vis-à-vis NATO, and correspond to France's positioning as a major ally and balancing power as advanced by the executive.
However, they also turn out to be much superior to those which made it possible to define the format of the French armies within the framework of the White Paper of 2013, while the LPM 2024-2030 remains based, in many aspects, on this same format, and this concerning the 3 armies.
The question therefore arises of the consistency between the trajectory defined by the future LPM, and the operational contract as presented by the Minister of the Armed Forces.
Army: Deploy a division of 2 brigades
The commitments concerning the French Army remain, more or less, identical to what they were until now. In fact, France already oversees NATO's southern European front, and must therefore assume not only command of an Army Corps made up of divisions and brigades of local forces and allies dedicated to this front (like Belgium), but also to contribute to it with a division composed of 2 combat brigades.
To achieve this, the Army can rely on 6 organic brigades divided into 2 divisions. According to the French commitments within NATO, the latter must be able to deploy a first combat brigade in one week, as well as a second brigade within 30 days.
To achieve this, the French brigades ensure an operational rotation, with a brigade ensuring the alert, as was the case for the Serval brigade deployed in Mali in 2013 on very short notice. A second brigade, which is in training, ensures a 30-day alert, while a third brigade is also in training, to be able to take the alert in turn.
The last 3 brigades are resting and regenerating, especially after deployments, and also participate in other deployments outside the NATO framework. Unfortunately, this organization turns out to be more theoretical than practical, and NATO itself considered until recently that the Army could only ensure the deployment of a reinforced brigade at 30 days, and possibly of a second brigade at 90 days.
The fact is, to assume such an operational posture, it would be necessary to create 2 new brigades for the Army, so as to effectively have sufficient rotation means to assume the sustained deployment over time of 2 brigades on demand. of NATO (not to mention a commitment).
In addition, it should be borne in mind that a significant part of French regiments are specialized, such as Marine infantry units for amphibious assault, parachute units for air combat, and mountain troops .
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