4 sustainable budget models for the modernization and extension of the armed forces

In a surprisingly low-key media environment, several major crises that could potentially evolve into armed conflict between great powers are taking place simultaneously on the planet, whether it is the crisis between Ukraine and Russia potentially involving NATO, the one between Israel and Iran on the subject of the latter's nuclear program, or the crisis between Beijing and Taiwan, each of them bears the beginnings of a large-scale international conflict that could involve Europe, and France in particular . In this context, it appears that the means available to the French Armies today are insufficient in quantity, and qualitatively unsuitable to cope with them. Indeed, the current model of the Armies was defined on the basis of paradigms of global peace and remote crises of low intensity, to which France intended to respond with a projectable Expeditionary Force, while ensuring its own security through nuclear deterrence.

Today, however, this format and this doctrine are no longer suitable, and the French armies, like all of their Western allies, must undertake a profound change to be able to reveal the challenge imposed by countries like Russia. , China but also heavily armed intermediary nations like Iran or Turkey, in order to guarantee the security of its nationals, the integrity of its territory and the preservation of its interests. The needs in this area are immense, as much for the Army, the French Navy, the Air and Space Army, and even for the development of the national defense industry. However, in the present economic and social context, it may seem difficult, if not impossible, to produce the budgetary efforts necessary to respond in time to the real needs of the armed forces, at least this is the generally accepted perception, which explains the strong resistance noted by political and economic authorities in this area. And even if the consequences of a crisis in Ukraine on the economy and social and societal balances in Europe would be far greater than the investments required to contain it, the political doxa seems to hold firm, preferring to assume the exogenous risk than to '' take responsibility for the determined action.

The Russian armed forces now have considerable operational means capable of surpassing the defenses that European countries can deploy, even in a collective defense effort coordinated by NATO or the EU

However, today there are several models that would make it possible to release the required investments, at least with regard to the modernization of the armed forces, while respecting the existing budgetary constraints, and in particular the need not to widen the deficits. public. These models, 4 in number with the principle of Positive Valuation of Defense Effort, the Operational Buffer, the Defense Base and the European Defense Recapitalization Plan, each offer their own advantages and their own constraints, but all would allow today ' hui to meet the challenges both technological and industrial to strengthen the national armed forces, and therefore the security of the country as that of its neighbors.

1- The principle of Positive Valuation of the Defense effort

The first model is also the simplest and the least restrictive to implement. The principle of Positive Valuation of Defense Effort, also called Positive Valuation Defense, based on the social and budgetary efficiency of the State's investment in defense industries, while creating a virtuous budget cycle within the state budget itself. In summary, each million euros invested by the State in the national defense industry goes generate 25 jobs for a year, jobs which will generate for their part, in a synthetic way, 0,6 m € in tax and social revenue, and 0,45 m € in social savings, all charged to the State budget. In total, therefore, the million invested will generate € 1,05 million in budgetary returns for the State, or more than it costs. Taking into account the average export volumes, the number of jobs created or maintained over a year reaches 37, and the budget return capped at € 1,6m, per € m invested.

Why, under these conditions, does the State not rush to invest in this area, especially since it has the assurance of not creating additional sovereign debts, and that it will create, at the by the way, 37 jobs per million euros invested per year, ie three times the observed average efficiency of the State's economic actions? The answer is both simple and complex. Indeed, the budgetary mechanisms do not allow, today, the State to put part of its investments in a self-sustaining economic bubble, balanced by the revenues which they could generate. For proponents of budgetary rigor, this same conception of a self-supporting sectorized economic investment is budgetary heresy. In addition, the implementation of mechanisms to smooth budget revenues and savings would require several years, during which the State will have to partially cover certain deficits to finance the growth phase. Finally, this approach is contrary to the accounting rules imposed by the European authorities, in particular within the framework of the Euro.

The French defense industry generates a budgetary return greater than 100% vis-à-vis the investments made for the French State

In fact, although it is economically very simple to implement, the principle of Positive Valuation of the Defense effort is in itself an eminently political act, and not a technical one. It presupposes a strong will on the part of the executive in this area, in order to justify, in the face of a public opinion which is most often very poorly informed about both security and industrial issues in this area, a voluntary signposting of investments in defense industries. On the other hand, as long as the conditions are required, it is undoubtedly a very effective political strategy, both from an economic and social point of view, and above all for giving the armies the means, over time, to ensure their missions.

2- The operational buffer

If Positive Valuation is above all a political approach, the Operational Buffer, it is a purely technical approach. Its mechanism is hardly complicated, since it involves financing supernumerary equipment within the armed forces, liable to be exported at short notice and at preferential rates to international customers. It finds its justification in the rapid evolution of the international security situation, which often creates a character of urgency in the execution of international defense contracts, which are hardly compatible with industrial reality. To remedy this, the Operational Buffer proposes to create an ad-hoc structure which would finance the delivery of equipment likely to find buyers in the short or medium term on the international scene, and which would lease them, in the interim, to the French Armies, which would then benefit from a fleet or a larger fleet of their equipment, allowing better consideration of operational needs.

The operational buffer makes it possible to increase the number of equipment available to the French armies at all times, by anticipating the second-hand export market, on a self-supporting economic model in budgetary terms.

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