Within the French National Assembly, the Commission for National Defense and the Armed Forces is far from being the most popular commission among deputies. The sovereign function par excellence being a reserved domain of the Elysée, it is difficult to shine there, or to assert an alternative or simply constructive voice, in the face of the doxa imposed by the Presidency of the Republic and the Ministry of the Armed Forces. . In fact, it is rare for MPs, whether from the majority or the opposition, to play a significant role. However, during the previous magistracy, several deputies were able, through their commitment as well as the relevance of their analyses, to highlight this extended strategic reflection, while getting involved in the design and monitoring of the first Programming Law Military respected since the inception of this exercise.
Among these deputies, 3 are today candidates for their own re-election, and are in the ballot after the first round of the legislative elections: Fabien Gouttefarde, Jean-christophe Lagarde and Jean-Louis Thériot (alphabetical order). While defense issues have again become a major subject for the conduct of the State, and very few deputies or candidates can claim proven experience or expertise in this area, it seems important to keep such profiles within the Commission for National Defense and the Armed Forces of the National Assembly, both to oversee its operation while a revision of the Programming Law is in progress and a probable new Strategic Review will not will soon emerge, only to sometimes confront defense planning with its inconsistencies.
Deputy of the second constituency of Eure since 2017, Fabien Gouttefarde is one of these newcomers to politics who joined the dynamic En Marche of Emmanuel Macron during the previous presidential election. However, this jurist had always maintained close ties with Defense and the armies, being himself a reserve Lieutenant in the French Navy, and having participated in numerous actions and missions for the Ministry before his election. . Although elected by the presidential majority, under the label En Marche, Deputy Gouttefarde did not hesitate to make proposals that were not in line with government policy in this area during his term of office, without take a dissenting position on this. In particular, ahead of the presidential election, he published several articles in the press in favor of a much more ambitious defense policy, in particular to be able to deal with new threats in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and in the Indo-Pacific region. In particular, he proposed the conversion of two SSBNs of the Triomphant class into cruise missile nuclear submarines, but also the design of Rafale aircraft dedicated to electronic warfare and the removal of anti-aircraft defenses, as well as the extension of the SNA fleet to 7 units. In addition, and like the other two MEPs in this article, he defends the possibility of increasing defense investments by relying, in particular, on the economic efficiency of the national defense industry.
If F.Goutterfarde and JL.Theriot were newcomers to the National Assembly during this magistracy, this was not the case for Jean-Christophe Lagarde, who has held the position of deputy for the 5th district of Seine Saint Denis since 2002. In addition, he was the only President of a Parliamentary Group, in this case the centrist UDI party, to have chosen to sit on the National Defense and Armed Forces Commission, a role he took to heart in a constructive opposition. Thus, he supported the Military Programming Law as well as its Revision, but did not hesitate, on several occasions, to point out the inconsistencies or the lack of ambition in the face of the evolution of the threats of French military programming, such as the absence of a Rafale program dedicated to electronic warfare (him again), or a combat drone program, potentially based on the achievements of the Neuron demonstrator program. Even if the Ministry of the Armed Forces took no account of these calls, they benefited from over-exposure to the media from a group president but also from the President of the UDI political party who, by dint of repetition, begins to bear fruit.
Mayor of Beauvoir since 2008 under the UMP then LR label, Jean-Louis Thériot had a discreet start in the National Assembly, elected as a substitute for Yves Jego. He took the position of deputy for the third constituency of Seine et Marnes in 2018, when the latter announced his retirement from political life. This lawyer keen on military and political history, about which he published several books, joined the Defense Commission in an approach, again, of constructive opposition. It is, however, unquestionably his excellent parliamentary report on high-intensity warfare, co-authored with Herald First Constituency MP Patricia Miralles and published just days before the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, which gave him parliamentary authority on defense issues, and media exposure put to good use ever since. Like F. Gouttefarde and JC Lagarde, Jean-Louis Thèriot supports the increase in resources but also in the format of the armies, with several relevant proposals, particularly in terms of the exploitation of the Reserve, again relying on economic efficiency. of the Defense Industry to ensure its sustainability.
While the upcoming legislative elections promise a close vote, it would undoubtedly be more than beneficial to the armed forces and National Defense if these 3 deputies were reappointed by their respective voters, so as to constitute, on the basis of shared convictions more than political alignments, a parliamentary base allowing the effective implementation of a new defense policy, a policy in which Parliament, and in particular the National Defense and Armed Forces Committee, would play a more structuring role than when previous mandates.