The National Guard, a favorite format for High Intensity

The military parade on July 14, 2021, which will take place as always on the avenue des Champs-Elysées, will be this year on the theme of "La Haute Intensity", a notion that has recently reappeared with the resurgence of this type of commitment, and the rise of certain armed forces such as China and Russia. However, if the French Armies will showcase their high-performance equipment, such as the Rafale, the Leclerc tanks, the VBMR Griffon or even the new ships of the French Navy during this event, they will not be able to hide their more than limited capacities in this area. , inherited from 25 years of unfavorable budgetary and political trade-offs and an erroneous assessment of the evolution of geopolitical risks, including in Europe. Because, and all the soldiers know it very well, if the French armies have high-performance equipment, their forces are cruelly lacking in thickness to be able to engage effectively in a real conflict of "High Intensity".

However, all is not negative in this table. On the one hand, the 2019-2025 Military Programming Law has so far been observed almost strictly by the government of Emmanuel Macron, a first since the establishment of this exercise in the 80s. Not only is the LPM respected , but it will have made it possible to stop the haemorrhage of capacity which has struck the French armies for the past fifteen years, which to support operational pressure, sacrificed their meager reserves, leading to the accelerated wear and tear of equipment, the collapse of capacity availability , increased maintenance costs and a significant drop in morale among the military. Above all, thanks to the combined action of the Chiefs of Staff, they managed to preserve a nucleus of units acting as the receptacle of military know-how and skills, precisely in the field of high-intensity engagement. , so as to be able, when the time comes, to reconstitute forces within shortened timeframes. However, giving the French armed forces real commitment capabilities of this type would be a long, very expensive and particularly difficult effort, particularly in the field of human resources. However, there is a model that would make it possible to achieve this with a smaller budgetary effort and in a much more flexible way, the National Guard.

The French Armies do indeed have High Intensity engagement capacities, but in small numbers, limiting their military and political effectiveness.

First, let's start by defining some concepts, in particular that of the “High Intensity” commitment. It is about an armed engagement vis-a-vis an adversary having numerous military means, technologically advanced, and implemented by experienced soldiers. The English-speaking term to define this notion, Near-Pear Adversaries, or adversary close to his peers is in itself explicit, since it precisely describes an adversary having means close to those available to Western armies, in quality as well as in quantity. The last "high intensity" engagement took place in 2020 in Nagorno-Karabakh between the Azerbaijani and Armenian armies, and the last such military action by the French armies took place in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. The term "National Guard", within the meaning of this article, represents a military force made up of reservists acting in formed units, unlike current reservists who act in their vast majority as a back-up to a unit formed of professional soldiers, or in levels of support.

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