In 2021, the Ministry of the Armed Forces and the French Parliament must work together for what is called a “review clause” concerning the Military Programming Law 2019-2025 currently in progress. The objective of this procedure is to adapt to changes in needs, technologies and the international situation, the ambitions and major axes of the LPM, so as to make it more efficient. As we have already tackled it, and unlike other European countries such as Italy, the Hotel de Brienne, and especially the Ministry of Finance and the Presidency of the Republic, did not consider it appropriate to channel part of the resources devoted to the Recovery Plan Covid to the Armies, believing that the LPM was in itself a sufficient recovery plan.
However, the overall situation has changed significantly since the drafting of the 2019 Strategic Review, which served as the basis for the LPM 2019-2025. Indeed, in addition to the international tensions which have greatly increased, many new threats have appeared or have considerably progressed, such as hypersonic weapons, cyber warfare or electronic warfare, and all French Chiefs of Staff are trying somehow to draw attention to the return of the risk of high intensity conflict, for which the French armies, even at the end of the LPM, are not optimized. In this context, is it possible to increase the resources allocated to the armed forces to respond, on the current LPM, to these challenges, or at least to launch the necessary dynamics for this? And is the budgetary effort required from public finances sustainable in the current economic framework?
What needs for what costs?
In 2021, the army budget in France will reach € 39,2 billion, an increase of € 1,7 billion compared to 2020. In accordance with the Military Programming Law, this budget has seen an increase of almost € 7 billion, or 22%, in 4 years. This is the largest increase in defense credits for more than 50 years, and the first time that a Military Programming Law has been strictly observed, since the introduction of this type of legislation. In fact, the current government cannot be described as lax in this area, especially since this increase far exceeds that of the vast majority of other NATO members. However, it will only allow, even when completed, to "repair" the damage caused by 20 years of budget wanderings in the field of Defense on the principle of "Benefits of Peace", as we know. henceforth to have been an illusion. And the 2019-2025 LPM does not, in substance, give back to the French armies, and in a sufficiently short period of time to face medium-term defense challenges, the capabilities of fight technologically advanced opponents in large-scale and long-term commitments.
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