After 100 days of war in Ukraine, France has still not adapted its defense effort and ambitions

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Like the attack on Poland in 1939 by Nazi Germany, and that of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial Fleet in 1941, the triggering of the Russian "special military operation" in Ukraine, on February 24, 2022 , took Western leaders, including the United States, by surprise, particularly on the strategic level. Not only did this mark the return of high-intensity warfare, but it involved one of the two most important nuclear powers on the planet. Worse still, it took place not in the Middle East or in an obscure country in the Caucasus, but in Europe, a continent that has been largely preserved in recent decades, at least since the wars of Yugoslavia. And the least that can be said is that this new geopolitical reality had not been anticipated by Western leaders, their armies being, for the most part, neither sized, nor organized and equipped to respond to this type of engagement, whether in terms of firepower, resilience or responsiveness.

On the very day the attack began, the Bundeswehr Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Alfons But, wrote on his LinkedIn page that the German Armed Forces, after 30 years of underinvestment, were not ready to respond to this type of threat, leading the new Chancellor Olaf Scholz to present just 3 days later before the Bundestag a very ambitious investment plan to quickly restore the necessary capabilities to the German armiess to face the new reality. This is based on an emergency envelope of €100 billion to finance the most critical acquisitions in the short term, including F-35A combat aircraft for NATO's nuclear sharing mission, fighters Typhoon ECR for missions to suppress opposing air defenses, CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopters to replace the CH-53 Super Station dating from the 70s, anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems, armored infantry fighting vehicles and more than €20 billion to replenish stocks of ammunition and spare parts largely eroded in recent decades, while increasing funding for critical European programs FCAS, MGCS and Eurodrone.

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Berlin announced the order of 2 squadrons of F-35A to ensure NATO's shared deterrence mission. This order will be financed by the exceptional investment envelope of €100 billion for the German armies announced by Chancellor Scholz.

This plan, which has yet to receive the approval of the Bundestag but which already has the support of the government coalition but also of the German right of the CDU, plans to maintain the level of German investment in terms of defense for 4 years at its 2022 level (€48 billion), to which will be added an average of €25 billion in exceptional investments per year until 2025, before increasing the budget allocated to La Défense to 2% of German GDP beyond this deadline. Berlin is however not the only European capital to have announced a significant shift in its policy and its defense ambitions since February 24. In fact, almost all European countries have done the same, Italy having pledged to bring its spending to 2% of its GDP by 2028, the Netherlands having done the same, as Sweden, spain et most Eastern European countries. Poland, meanwhile, is now aiming for a defense effort of 3% of its GDP, just like Greece. Even Belgium, although NATO's bad student in this area, has announced an increase in its defense budget to 1,5% of its GDP, an increase of almost 50% compared to its current level. But one country, and not the least in Europe, is an exception in this area, since France has not so far announced any development in its defense effort or concerning its ambitions in this area.

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  1. […] The French authorities had remained particularly discreet in this area. It is true that the country had undertaken, as early as 2017, an effort to reverse the curve of investments in Defense, with a Strategic Review and a Military Programming Law (LPM) implementing a linear increase in the budget of the armies of 1,7, €2022 billion per year until 3, then €2023 billion per year in 2024 and 2022. In addition, defense issues were not part of the major campaign themes for the presidential election or for the legislative elections that followed , neither on the part of the outgoing president, nor that of the oppositions, forming an opaque screed around the subject over the whole of this period. On the occasion of the Eurosatory 3 exhibition last June, the newly re-elected President Macron, however, announced that an update of the LPM would be necessary to meet new defense challenges, confirming that the country should increase its defense effort in the years to come. A week ago, it was the Minister for the Armed Forces, Sebastien Lecornu, who confirmed that the budget for the armed forces would indeed increase by €2023 billion in XNUMX, thus responding to a report by the Court of Auditors recently published which warned against the budgetary sustainability of such an effort. […]

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