Mr Macron announces the end of the “expeditionary” army model in favor of the “axis towards high intensity”

Upon returning to power in 1958, General de Gaulle led a defense policy based on national independence, deterrence and conscription. Thus, it was a matter of supporting strategic sovereignty and autonomy in a world then marked by competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, which meant accelerating the process of decolonization. [et donc de mettre au pas l’armée « coloniale »].

Subsequently, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the French army model was part of the “expeditionary” logic, with particular professionalization, against the backdrop of falling military spending. Once important capabilities are reduced to a sample state, with the argument that not with this or that material we will win the war of the future, the era for “external operations”, carried out in a permissive environment.

Except for that, and despite signals that were hard to ignore, the rivalry between the powers never really faded away. The current war in Ukraine shows this… Like tensions in the Indo-Pacific region. What’s more, the threats are multiplying and growing now…

That was the observation of General Thierry Burkhard, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces [CEMA], during a parliamentary session in July. “Our ability as an expeditionary force does not necessarily make us capable of waging war with high intensity,” he told the deputies.

Therefore, the “great transformation” and “difficult choice” were announced by Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces, on the occasion of his agenda, on 4 January. And during this request to the Army, this January 20, from the 118 Mont-de-Marsan air base, President Macron sent the main line.

Because of this, he announced that the army model resulting from the next LPM should prioritize “consistency over mass” and “responsiveness without sacrificing endurance”. Clearly, he added, this meant it would be a question of “consolidating our core sovereignty, where the previous model of the Military Programming Law placed greater emphasis on expeditionary capabilities and the fight against terrorism”.

“Transformation, […] it is to be able to move from a model built to ensure operations in environments where our freedom of action is strong to an evolutionary capacity in contested environments, in the face of experienced adversaries, sometimes technologically resilient across the scourges of conflict,” urged Mr Macron.

Also, given the size of the threat [qui concernent aussi les départements et collectivités d’outre-Mer, qu’il a cités à plusieurs reprises dans son discours], the president announced that LPM’s 2024-30 budget effort will be 400 billion euros. That’s 30% more than the current one [295 milliards, ndlr]. This amount “will make it possible to cover 413 billion military needs” and to initiate “great irreversible changes”.

Unsurprisingly, deterrence will be strengthened and “strengthened” because it “makes France a different country in Europe”. Permanent postures will also receive special attention. “This presupposes enhanced intelligence capabilities that should enable us to anticipate crises and threats”, Macron said, stressing “autonomy of decisions and actions”. The “knowledge and anticipation” function will benefit from a new substantial effort of +60% in total, with resources from the Military Intelligence Directorate [DRM] and the Directorate of Defense Intelligence and Security [DRSD] which will be doubled.

Surveillance capacity will also be significantly strengthened, with “drones and means of intervention”, particularly in overseas areas, “where the capacity for providing local first reactions must be complemented by projected substantial reinforcement”, explained Macron, without elaborating. details.

Additionally, under “resilience”, the Elysée tenant also says he wants to “double the capacity to deal with major cyber attacks” as well as an operational reserve format, which “will allow to strengthen our active forces.” ‘ as well as the creation of ‘territorial units and coastal fleets’. Obviously, this means reviewing military maps… as well as support organizations, such as the Armed Forces Health Service [SSA].

That being said, ignoring the logic of an expedition means managing the crisis “differently”, by controlling “the footprint and duration of our remote operations”, this should fall specifically to special forces, who will also be strengthened, explained Ms. Macron.

However, this “transformation” or “pivot towards high intensity”, said the Head of State, will be through strengthening the national emergency level. [ENU]to “have the necessary means to intervene in a short time, even far from Metropolis” [dans les outre-Mer?]. It will also be a question of “increasing the capacity to withstand and withstand stress and the effects of wear and tear”, thanks to more intensive operational preparations, increased availability of materials and stockpiles of suitable ammunition.

In his speech, Emmanuel Macron gave a few details about the capabilities that will be included in the upcoming LPM. “Facing a stronger enemy, we must also act more forcefully in order to quickly achieve a decisive military effect. This involves hardening our tools,” he said.

So, among the decisions he announced by the president, Mirage 2000s will disappear sooner than expected [alors que la modernisation des Mirage 2000D est en cours, ndlr], the transition to “all Rafale” is being recorded. “We will maintain this magnificent aircraft at the best level in the world,” he assured. The modernization of the Army through the Scorpion program will obviously continue. As for the French Navy, its frigates will experience increased strength and protection. And the next generation of aircraft carriers [PA NG] will be confirmed.

“We also have to innovate by developing remotely guided munitions [des munitions téléopérées?], by expanding the use of drones by doubling, in this case, our investment,” Macron said. Efforts in quantum technology and artificial intelligence will continue [ce qui profitera au cyber et au renseignement].

The TNI Commander has announced capacity building in areas with high operational added value. And citing ground-air defense, the means of which will be increased by 50%. And this is because, he explained, “even with deterrence, our region is not immune to isolated attacks, for example due to interference, particularly non-State”. Shooting at depth, suppressing enemy air defenses [SEAD] and anti-submarine warfare will be one of the priorities.

Another aspect of this “axis” concerns the “common spaces” namely cyberspace, outer space and oceans. This is where the action modes related to “hybrid warfare” are generally deployed. LPM will provide the necessary means to detect weak signals… This must be done by adopting a “departmental, proactive and influential approach”, which is not just the responsibility of soldiers.

“We will strengthen our ability to monitor and react, but also to take initiative, to convey a clear strategic message in outer space, in digital space and in maritime space”, also promised Mr Macron. Clearly “cyber” capacities will be used and efforts on space components will not be relaxed. Beyond the control of the seabed, the Navy should benefit from strengthened means, “at the apex of our nation’s maritime assets”, he said, again citing the importance of overseas territories. .

Finally, the fourth part of this transformation concerns “international partnerships”. There, it will be a question of leveraging the newly tied [Grèce, Inde, Émirats arabes unis, etc]to review the terms of several and, above all, to allow France to take its full place in NATO and the European Union.

In addition, LPM’s future goals can be summed up with this sentence from Mr. Macron: “If, tomorrow, such a great partner [les États-Unis?] must look elsewhere, we must be able to act with Europeans, within NATO or outside, and, if necessary, ensure command capabilities that will allow us to carry out large-scale operations together. For us, this means being able to deploy a combined capability representing up to 20,000 people. It gives you a measure of the challenge and ambition that is ours.”

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