New Military Bill Envisions “compact” yet “powerful” Armed Forces

The addition of the Airbus A400M will be a strategic upgrade to French military capabilities. Photo: Airwolfhound for flickr.

The addition of the Airbus A400M will be a strategic upgrade to French military capabilities. Photo: Airwolfhound for flickr.

Even in the face of continued economic stagnation, France will remain steady with the budget for the military.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Defense Minister, presented the military bill on Friday in a French cabinet meeting, which will cover 2014 through 2019. The extensive bill was marked with six primary priorities, which reflect the country’s commitment to defense despite the financial downturn.

Notably, France will maintain its current budget of 31.4 billion euros for military spending, at least until 2016. However, the country will see a significant reduction in personnel. The number employed is expected to decrease to about 242,000, or a cut of about 24,000 by 2019, and will be part of a larger restructuring project for the military that will commence in September.

Despite the downsizing, Le Drian has vowed that the closures would be minimal and that they would be implemented to affect the least possible number of operational forces. The country faces something of a predicament, as it must maintain adequate forces and develop technology and equipment despite the government deficit.

Additionally, France will renew its commitment to employing the most modern military equipment. France will become the first country to receive an A400M military transport plane from Airbus, a move that has garnered media attention due to the program’s complexity and hitches on the way to completion.  The project had taken 10 years—three years behind the original seven-year schedule— and cost 20 billion euros. It had nearly ended in 2010 when EADS, who headed Airbus, threatened to cut the project off.

The delivery marks a strategic victory for France, as the country has long been plagued by a shortcoming in military airlift capabilities.

It is hoped that the new equipment will offset the downsizing and render the French military “compact” but “powerful,” in the words of Le Drian.

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  1. […] Le Drian, the French Defense Minister, presented the military bill in a French cabinet meeting that will cover 2014 through 2019. The extensive bill was marked by six […]

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