The Transformation of the French Armies
Emmanuel Macron has announced a massive €413 billion investment into the French military, with the goal being to maintain France's position as a major geopolitical power.
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Today saw huge news regarding the French military, as Emmanuel Macron announced a new 2024-2030 military programming law, which was done under the title of the “transformation of the armies”.
With 2022 having marked the return to war on the European continent, and with Russia’s illegal and bloody invasion of Ukraine continuing, there’s not a single person on the continent who hasn’t called into question our ability to deal with the situation.
Whether you fall into the pro-NATO or the pro-EU Army camps, you likely believe that your country needs to do more to prepare for a potential war, to ensure its security, and to ensure its ability to prevent calamity from falling upon us.
Luckily for us French, there have already been efforts to rebuild and repair our military, with Emmanuel Macron reminding us in the speech below that “The 2019-2025 military programming law had a clear vocation: to repair our armies, to give them back their breath, the means”
Praising the collective work of the military, and their ability to “respect” the plan to the euro, he then reminded the soldiers and politicians present of the need to rebuild the military and amplify its powers, and the need to transform the military after its reparation, all while the state transforms itself.
As the war in Ukraine has highlighted weaknesses in the French military system, and an increasing need to ensure our strategic independence, as well as that of our European allies, it was clear why the President chose to pursue this law.
With “a budgetary effort of 400 billion euros, which will cover a total of 413 billion euros in military needs” over the next seven years, the 2024-2030 law will cost a third more than the 2019-2025 programme, which itself had cost €295 billion and had reversed years of military budget cuts.
"In total, these two military programming laws will therefore have led to a doubling of the budgets of our armies…these are considerable means which amplify a defence effort whose dynamics are without precedence in the past five decades.”
President Emmanuel Macron, January 20 2023
However, these efforts will not be limited to explicitly military means but will also see a huge increase of almost 60% in the budget allocated to the Direction du Renseignement Militaire (DRM, Military Intelligence Directorate) and the Direction du Renseignement et de la Sécurité de la Défense (DRSD, Defense Intelligence and Security Directorate).
There will also be a modernisation of the French nuclear deterrent, with an increase of €5.6 billion euros to their budget, a 50% increase in air defence capabilities, and aside from this, a doubling of the number of reservists.
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A stronger geopolitical state
The Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, was clear about the sheer importance of this new law, tweeting about the “foundational” address that the president gave and pointing out that, by 2030, the army budget will have doubled since 2017.
“Emmanuel Macron’s address to our armies is foundational. With €413 billion for the period 2024-2030, this next military programming law is historic.
In 2030, the army budget will have doubled since 2017”
Giving an interview in Le Monde, Lecornu was clear that the “historic sum” that this law ensured would allow “France to remain a world power", making comparisons to the successful effort that Charles de Gaulle led to transform the French Army and develop our nuclear power.
He makes it clear that this is intended to ensure that France remains a geopolitical actor on the world stage, not only protecting itself but ‘projecting’ this protection to “our allies, [and] to defend, if necessary, our security and our values”
Another deputy for Renaissance, Benjamin Haddad, a well-known expert in International Relations who worked with the Hudson Institute and Atlantic Council, was clear about the importance of this law with the return of war to the continent.
The President Emmanuel Macron announces a military programming law of 413 billion euros. A considerable increase in the army budget, after +25% over the last 5 years.
War is back: it's time to rearm.
Will this work?
Now we get to the interesting question within all of this, which is whether this will work.
In any situation, reinforcing the French military can only be a good thing. Having more, better-trained, and better-equipped soldiers is essential for ensuring the security of any state at a basic level.
Add to this a position as the leading military power within the European Union, as well as the need to defend and protect overseas territories, as well as an active role in peacekeeping efforts globally, it is clear that the French armies have a lot on their plate.
If you add to this an increasingly insecure and unstable Russian state, becoming more and more desperate as its geopolitical tantrum continues to hit the hard-nosed might of the Ukrainian armed forces, it’s clear that there is a need to increase our capabilities.
It’s for this reason that a significant increase in our military budget is almost essential. France is a security guarantor in the world, acting with world leaders such as the United States and China, and therefore needs to develop its capabilities to keep up.
Not only this, but as we regularly argue for a vastly reinforced NATO, as well as an EU military force that can act, we ourselves need to put our money where our mouth is and take the lead on this topic.
However, one important point that I’m personally curious about is the state of our military manufacturing. Will any of this funding go to expanding capabilities in factories creating our military equipment and materiel?
Not only this but how will efforts to replenish stocks sent to Ukraine in their war of survival impact our transformation? and will we be able to ensure the potential need to take this action in future all while ensuring our own capabilities?
This is an important question for us to ask ourselves, and something I look forward to seeing and hearing answers to over the coming year, as this plan is made clearer.
Regardless of the current fogginess of the modalities, anything that reinforces our geopolitical position and ability is genuinely positive, and anything that allows us to defend our allies and fight for our values should be applauded and supported.
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