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France refocusing military on Russia and China

FJAG

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France is looking at upping budget and refocusing on stronger formations with modernized weapon systems.

Budget Up, French Army Preps For Major Wargames With US
After decades fighting guerrillas and terrorists, France is refocusing on Russia and China with increased budgets, intensified training, stronger divisions, and new armored vehicles — much like the US. But the French approach is still very different.
By  SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. on November 25, 2020

WASHINGTON: The French and US armies have exchanged general officers to coordinate preparations for the Warfighter 21-04 exercise beginning next April. France is increasing its defense budget for the first time after decades of decline, and it’s eager to collaborate with the US against both Russian and Chinese threats. But that doesn’t mean buying US weapons, copying US doctrine, or embracing America’s obsession with high technology.

“The French army has maybe a less technophile approach than other armies,” said Maj. Gen. Michel Delion, who heads the French Army’s Center for Doctrine & Command Teaching (CDEC). Yes, working together with the US requires interoperability, Delion told an Association of the US Army webinar this morning. But even more important, he argued, is the human dimension, which requires ramping up officer exchanges.

A French one-star general is now deputy commander of the US Army 3rd Division, and since January, an American two-star has served as deputy commander of France’s 3rd Division, which will operate as a subordinate unit to the US Army III Corps in Warfighter 21-04. (Warfighter exercises are all-out stress-tests for command posts, not live field exercises for rank-and-file troops, whose participation is largely simulated).

“Our challenge is not technical,” agreed the US two-star, Maj. Gen. Todd Wasmund. “Most of our challenges have to do with our policies,” he said, which often prevent the two armies from sharing information – particularly intelligence data – even when their technologies are technically capable of exchanging it.

That said, there’s still plenty of technical nitty-gritty to work out. But the French see the solution in implanting common technical standards, not in buying the same hardware. It’s better to pursue “compatibility of standards” than to buy “standardized equipment,” Delion said. Future threats and crises will be diverse, he argued, so the allied nations need to maintain a diversity of different approaches to match, rather than attempt to clone the US.

Sure, the two industrialized democracies are adopting broadly similar approaches to similar threats. Both are struggling to implement new strategies focused on deterring conflict with great powers even as they remain enmired in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism commitments around the globe. “For 2019 alone, we’ve suffered 23 killed in action and more than 500 wounded,” Delion said. (The US lost 22 killed in Afghanistan in 2019, 12 in Iraq, and five in Syria).

Both armies have combat forces in Eastern Europe to deter the Russians: 300 French soldiers with dozens of armored vehicles have deployed to Lithuania. Both are increasingly anxious about China. The French army chief, Gen. Thierry Burkhard, is publicly concerned for French territories in Polynesia and New Caledonia, which make France a Pacific power.

Both armies are deemphasizing rehearsals for counterinsurgency and counterterrorism deployments and refocusing on exercises for high-intensity state-on-state conflict.Both are deemphasizing independent operations by brigades and strengthening higher-level formations like the division and corps, which are the focus of the Warfighter exercise upcoming in April.  Both countries are investing in artificial intelligence, space, cyber/electronic warfare, battlefield air defense, and wireless command-and-control networks, and both are embarking on major modernizations of their armored forces.

But the details are very different. Take that modernization, for instance. The French armored vehicles are farther along, are less technically ambitious and are significantly lighter than the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, weighing up to 50 tons, that the US is planning to replace the M2 Bradley. That reflects France’s longstanding love affair with lightweight wheeled armor, which is not only cheaper to build and operate, but also easier to deploy and operate in distant territories with poor ports and flimsy bridges, like Mali or New Caledonia.

Now, France and Germany are studying a new Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) to replace their existing Main Battle Tanks, the German Leopard II and the French LeClerc. But the timeline to deliver an actual vehicle is 15 years, plenty of time for the project to get derailed like so many ambitious inter-European efforts.

What France is actually buying here and now is the domestically produced SCORPION program, estimated at $6.8 billion. SCORPION includes upgrades to 200 LeClercs, but focuses on lighter, wheeled armor. (Just to prove the US military has no monopoly on awkwardly contrived acronyms, the formal name of the French effort is Synergie du COntact Renforcé par la Polyvalence et l’Info valorisatION). The current plan calls for purchasing:

- 1,872 6×6 Griffons, a new multi-purpose wheeled armored vehicle roughly similar to the US Army’s Stryker. Griffon weighs about 25 metric tons (almost 28 US tons), with variants ranging from troop transports to armored ambulances to mortar carriers. The French army already has 105 of the vehicles and has begun field-testing them in desert conditions in Djibouti. Belgium has agreed to buy 382 Griffons as well.

- 300 6×6 Jaguars, a turreted recon vehicle armed with a 40mm autocannon, built on the Griffon chassis and also weighing about 25 tons. Belgium will buy 60. Jaguar deliveries are set to begin next year.

- 2,038 4×4 Servals, 17-ton armored trucks able to carry a crew of two and six passengers. Delivery will begin in 2022.

- 1,000 4×4 VBLs (Véhicules Blindés Légers), a three-plus-ton armored truck roughly comparable to American JLTVs and uparmored Humvees. Unlike the new Griffon, Jaguar, and Serval, the VBL entered service in the 1980s.

The SCORPION program will gradually build up to “a complete overhaul of major equipment by 2030-2032,” Delion said today. The near-term plan, he said, calls for “a SCORPION battle group [i.e. battalion] in 2021, then a SCORPION brigade in 2023.”

After that, “we want to think again how to conduct large scale combat operations at the corps and division level,” Delion said. France is planning a live-fire division-scale exercise in 2023 and would love to have US participation, he said. By 2025, they want to do an exercise with a US division subordinate to a French corps.

See article herehere.

Something to think and ponder about.

:cheers:
 

CBH99

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The French really do back up their foreign policy with an incredibly capable military. The rafale, carriers, warships, nuclear subs, troop deployments, etc - France has a pretty big stick it can use, if necessary.
 

CBH99

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What about their Generals?
I have zero knowledge to back this up, BUT...their force in Mali seemed pretty darn capable with the initial approx. 1000 guys and 6 jets, which steadily expanded into their current mission.

But that initial deployment, while small - seemed to have some real teeth - and they took some solid ground while the force built up. So I'm guessing their theatre commanders are pretty decent.

Like anywhere though, I'm sure they have their good and their bad... <cough> Fraser <cough> ...
 

daftandbarmy

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What about their Generals?

The Generals are revolting, apparently, in more ways than one....


Anger as ex-generals warn of 'deadly civil war' in France​


The French government has condemned an open letter signed by active soldiers that said the country was heading for "civil war" due to religious extremism.

About 1,000 servicemen and women, including some 20 retired generals, put their names to the letter.

It blamed "fanatic partisans" for creating divisions between communities, and said Islamists were taking over whole parts of the nation's territory.

Ministers have condemned the message published in a right-wing magazine.

The letter was first published on 21 April - the 60th anniversary of a failed coup d'état.

"The hour is grave, France is in peril," the signatories said.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, a candidate in next year's presidential election, has spoken out in support of the former generals.

But the minister in charge of the armed forces, Florence Parly, tweeted: "Two immutable principles guide the action of members of the military with regard to politics: neutrality and loyalty."

She earlier warned that any signatories still serving in the military would be punished for defying a law that requires them to remain politically neutral.

 

YZT580

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The Generals are revolting, apparently, in more ways than one....


Anger as ex-generals warn of 'deadly civil war' in France​


The French government has condemned an open letter signed by active soldiers that said the country was heading for "civil war" due to religious extremism.



She earlier warned that any signatories still serving in the military would be punished for defying a law that requires them to remain politically neutral.

Is it being politically neutral to draw attention to a situation that you believe could produce a civil war? I would more classify it as loyalty to the government currently in power. One might disagree with the writer's findings but provided the author isn't fomenting rebellion and anarchy they shouldn't be censored.
 

Halifax Tar

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France is due for a revolution isn't it ?

I hear they like revolutions because they always win...
 

daftandbarmy

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Is it being politically neutral to draw attention to a situation that you believe could produce a civil war? I would more classify it as loyalty to the government currently in power. One might disagree with the writer's findings but provided the author isn't fomenting rebellion and anarchy they shouldn't be censored.

The French Exteme Right wing, characterized by Le Pen, makes Trump supporters look like a bunch of Salt Spring Island hippies.

They have direct and historical connections to Vichy (Nazi sympathizer) France Vichy France - Wikipedia

It's a real problem if alot of their military support him and his policies.
 

Kirkhill

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France is looking at upping budget and refocusing on stronger formations with modernized weapon systems.



See article herehere.

Something to think and ponder about.

:cheers:
So. France's fleet for the near-peer fight

200x LeClerc @ 56 tons

Leclerc_MBT_detour.jpg


300x Jaguar @ 25 tons

BDB4VQ525FES5NS6XBOGO66I74.jpg


1872x Griffons @ 25 tons

1624464105956.png

2038x Serval @ 17 tons

1624464369831.png

1000x VBL @ 5 tons

1624464522045.png


If there is one piece of French kit that has always made me jealous it is the VBL.
 

Blackadder1916

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Is it being politically neutral to draw attention to a situation that you believe could produce a civil war? I would more classify it as loyalty to the government currently in power. One might disagree with the writer's findings but provided the author isn't fomenting rebellion and anarchy they shouldn't be censored.

Have you read the letter? In the original French or a translation? It takes a little searching to find (it's probably easier for a red-neck Frenchman) but the sense I got on reading it (taking into account my facility, or lack thereof, in French) was that the intent was to threaten the French government to take extreme measures or else they (those who wrote/signed the letter) would move to change the government. While it wasn't specifically in the letter, the author followed it on his blog with the statement:

Chers amis, l'opération "lettre ouverte" est close. Nous avons enregistré plus de 27 000 signatures d'anciens militaires dont une soixantaine de Généraux et 70 000 soutiens civils.

Nous passons désormais à l'étape suivante qui va consister à nous organiser sur le terrain.

Merci de votre engagement à nos côtés.

The highlighted portion is roughly translated to "We are now moving on to the next step which will consist in organizing ourselves in the field".

Just as serving members of the CAF have restrictions placed on them re political activities or making statements, so too do members of the French Armed Forces (Code de la défense Articles L4121-1 à L4121-8). As to taking action against "retired" generals who signed the letter, French generals (even retired ones) are treated as a special category of personnel in the Code de la défense (Articles L4141-1 à L4141-7). To simplify it, as long as the individual wishes and as long as the government so desires, a French general remains in the military even when he is no longer active and even after he begins receiving his retirement pension. If one wants the perquisites of being a general, then abiding by the responsibilities that come with it, including the accepted code of conduct, is the price.


I've deliberately excluded a link to the open letter to the French Government as I would not want to draw more attention to their site.
 

YZT580

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Have you read the letter? In the original French or a translation? It takes a little searching to find (it's probably easier for a red-neck Frenchman) but the sense I got on reading it (taking into account my facility, or lack thereof, in French) was that the intent was to threaten the French government to take extreme measures or else they (those who wrote/signed the letter) would move to change the government. While it wasn't specifically in the letter, the author followed it on his blog with the statement:



The highlighted portion is roughly translated to "We are now moving on to the next step which will consist in organizing ourselves in the field".

Just as serving members of the CAF have restrictions placed on them re political activities or making statements, so too do members of the French Armed Forces (Code de la défense Articles L4121-1 à L4121-8). As to taking action against "retired" generals who signed the letter, French generals (even retired ones) are treated as a special category of personnel in the Code de la défense (Articles L4141-1 à L4141-7). To simplify it, as long as the individual wishes and as long as the government so desires, a French general remains in the military even when he is no longer active and even after he begins receiving his retirement pension. If one wants the perquisites of being a general, then abiding by the responsibilities that come with it, including the accepted code of conduct, is the price.


I've deliberately excluded a link to the open letter to the French Government as I would not want to draw more attention to their site.
thanks for the enlightenment
 
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