Sunday, June 8, 2008

French Military Falling Apart

The French military is in dire straights. And since it is now a Sarkozy at the head of France, I will refrain from such snarky ruminations about the cause being production problems at the plant that manufactures white flags. France has not been investing in its military and today we learn that its military equipment is antiquated and largely inoperative. To his credit, PM Sarkozy is acknowledging the extent of the problem and is determined to fix it.

This from the Telegraph:

Most of France's tanks, helicopters and jet fighters are unusable and its defence apparatus is on the verge of "falling apart", it has emerged.

According to confidential defence documents leaked to the French press, less than half of France's Leclerc tanks – 142 out of 346 – are operational and even these regularly break down.

Less than half of its Puma helicopters, 37 per cent of its Lynx choppers and 33 per cent of its Super Frelon models – built 40 years ago – are in a fit state to fly, according to documents seen by Le Parisien newspaper.

Two thirds of France's Mirage F1 reconnaissance jets are unusable at present.

. . . The disclosure comes just ten days before President Nicolas Sarkozy announces a major reform of the armed forces, with a defence white paper outlining France's military priorities for the next 15 years.

He is expected to argue that the situation can only improve by reducing the number of France's operational troops from 50,000 to 30,000, and its fighter aircraft, as well as closing military bases.

He will also use the occasion to push for greater military integration in Europe, an issue that France will highlight when it takes over the EU's six-month rotating presidency in July.

French proposals circulating in Brussels show that France wants a new EU military headquarters based in the Belgian capital and run by Europe's new foreign policy chief. It is also calling for a bigger rapid reaction force and for countries to spend more on defence.

France has played down its European defence ambitions for fear of boosting the No vote in Ireland's referendum on the Lisbon treaty on June 12.

In parallel to beefing up the EU's defence capability, Mr Sarkozy is keen on France becoming a full member of Nato's integrated military command structure, which Charles de Gaulle left in 1966. But he is unlikely to make a decision on this until next year.

Read the entire article. France, just like the other nations of Western Europe, has had the luxury of spending the better part of the last century under the umbrella of U.S. protection through NATO. The EU economy is still decades behind the U.S. even as EU countries have spent minimally on defense. France is one fifth the size of the U.S., but if the above numbers are correct for "operational" military, then that puts its operational stength at about 2% of the size of the U.S. military. While so many in the Democratic Party are concerned about making Iraq pay for its "fair share" of the U.S. operations there in support of the Iraqi government, an equally great emphasis on paying a fair share should have been put upon our European allies - you know, those folks balking in support of the NATO mission in Afghanistan (but for Britain) and whose citizens largely consider the U.S. a force for evil in the world.

1 comment:

KG said...

lolol! Love the pic!