French Military

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French Military

Image:Logo-armee-de-lair.jpg French Air Force
Image:Logo-armee-fracaise.jpg French Army
Image:Logo marine.gif French Navy
Image:France coa.png Force de frappe
Image:Insigne général d'armée.png Ranks in the French Army
Image:Grade-amiral.jpg Ranks in the French Navy
History of the French Military
Image:Armoiries France Ancien.png Military History of France
Image:Grenadier Pied 1 1812 Revers.png La Grande Armée

The military of France has a long history of serving its country. It is currently one of the world's most powerful and technologically advanced armed forces. The President of the Republic is the Commander-in-Chief of the French military, which counts the defence of national territory, the protection of French interests abroad, and the maintenance of global stability as some of its primary objectives.


[edit] Organisation

The titular head of the French armed forces is the President of the Republic, in his role as Chef des Armées — the President is thus Commander-in-Chief of French forces. However, the Constitution puts civil and military government forces at the disposal of the gouvernement (the executive cabinet of ministers, who are not necessarily of the same political side as the president). The Minister of Defence (as of 2005, Michèle Aliot-Marie) oversees the military's funding, procurement and operations.

The French armed forces are divided into four branches:

  • Army (Armée de Terre), including
    • infantry (Infanterie)
    • cavalry (Arme Blindée Cavalerie)
    • artillery (Artillerie)
    • Chasseurs Alpins (mountain infantry, cavalry and artillery)
    • Foreign Legion (Légion étrangère) (infantry, cavalry and engineers)
    • Marine troops (marine infantry, cavalry and artillery)
    • light aviation and air cavalry (ALAT - Aviation Légére de l'Armée de Terre)
    • engineers (Génie)
    • transmissions (Transmissions)
    • transportation and logistics (Train)
    • maintenance (Matériel)
  • Navy (Marine Nationale), including
  • Air Force (Armée de l'Air) including
  • Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale), a military police force which serves for the most part as a rural and general purpose police force.
Image:French military on Champs Elysees DSC00768.jpg
Every year on Bastille Day, a large military parade is staged before the President of the Republic (here, soldiers preparing themselves).

They also include the following services:

[edit] Manpower

The total number of military personnel is approximately 359,000. However, 100,000 of these are in the Gendarmerie, and thus a vast majority of these 100,000 are used in everyday law enforcement operations inside France and are not fit for external operations. Elements of the Gendarmerie are however present in all French external operations, providing troops specialised in law enforcement and military policing.

Previously, France relied a great deal on conscription to provide manpower for its military, with only a minority of career soldiers. Following the Algerian War of Independence, the use of non-volunteer draftees in foreign operations was ended; if their unit was called up for duty in war zones, draftees were offered the choice between requesting a transfer to another unit or volunteering for the mission. In 1996, President Jacques Chirac's government announced the end of conscription; in 2001, conscription was ended. However, young people must still register for possible conscription should the situation call for it, with the change that now females must register as well.

[edit] International stance

French Military
Military manpower
Military age 17 years of age with consent for voluntary military service (2001)
Availability males age 15–49: 13,676,509 (2005 est.)
Fit for military service males age 15–49: 11,262,661 (2005 est.)
Reaching military age annually males: 389,204 (2005 est.)
Active troops 259,050 (ranked 20th)
Military expenditures
Amount €44 billion (2006)
Percent of GDP 2.6% (2005)

French military doctrine is based on the concepts of national independence, nuclear deterrence (see Force de frappe), and military sufficiency. France is a charter member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and has worked actively with Allies to adapt NATO—internally and externally—to the post-Cold War environment. In December 1995, France announced that it would increase its participation in NATO's military wing, including the Military Committee (the French withdrew from NATO's military bodies in 1966 while remaining full participants in the alliance's political councils). France remains a firm supporter of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and other efforts at cooperation. Paris hosted the May 1997 NATO-Russia Summit for the signing of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security.

Outside of NATO, France has actively and heavily participated in both coalition and unilateral peacekeeping efforts in Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans, often taking a lead role in these operations. France has undertaken a major restructuring to develop a professional military which will be smaller, more rapidly deployable and better tailored for operations outside of mainland France. Key elements of the restructuring include reducing personnel, bases, and headquarters and rationalising equipment and the armaments industry. French active-duty military at the beginning numbers approximately 270,000 (World Almanac 2004), of which nearly 35,000 were assigned outside of metropolitan France.

Since the end of the Cold War, France has placed a high priority on arms control and non-proliferation. French Nuclear testing in the Pacific, and the Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior strained French relations with its Allies and South Pacific states. France acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1992 and supported its indefinite extension in 1995. After conducting a controversial final series of six nuclear tests on Mururoa in the South Pacific, the French signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996. France has implemented a moratorium on the production, export, and use of anti-personnel landmines and supports negotiations leading toward a universal ban. The French are key players in the adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe to the new strategic environment.

France is an active participant in the major supplier regimes designed to restrict transfer of technologies that could lead to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group (for chemical and biological weapons), and the Missile Technology Control Regime. France has signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.

See also: France and weapons of mass destruction

[edit] Recent operations

There are currently 36,000 French troops deployed overseas.

France provides, along with the United States and other countries, troops for the force stationed in Haiti, sanctioned by the United Nations, following the 2004 Haiti rebellion. France has sent troops, especially special forces, into Afghanistan to help the United States and NATO forces fight the remains of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. A force of a few thousand French soldiers, under a mandate from the UN (Opération Licorne), are stationned in Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) on a peacekeeping mission. These troops were initially sent under the terms of a mutual protection pact between France and Côte d'Ivoire, but the mission has since evolved into the current UN peacekeeping operation. The French Armed Forces have also played a leading role in the ongoing UN peacekeeping mission along the Lebanon-Israel border as part of the cease-fire agreement that brought the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon War to an end. Currently, France has 2,000 army personnel deployed along the border, including infantry, armor, artillery and air defenses. There are additional naval and air personnel deployed offshore.

[edit] Equipment

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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