Russia, Ukraine, United States…: Is the French military programming law already obsolete in 2024?

In many aspects, the certainties that prevailed during the drafting of the French Military Programming Law 2024-2030, in France as in the entire Western bloc, at the end of 2022, have been deeply upset by developments in the Ukrainian conflict, Russian military and industrial power, and even by American positions, present and future.

Whether it concerns the dimensioning of deterrence or armies, the timetable for current technological developments, and even the role that Paris, like London, will probably be called upon to play in the years to come, to guarantee the security of the old continent, all have profoundly evolved, describing a threat, therefore needs to face it, unrelated to those targeted by this LPM.

The certainties of the French Military Programming Law 2024-2030 have been shattered in recent months

Based on the findings of the 2022 strategic review, drafted following the French presidential election, the Military Programming Law 2024-2030, must govern the country's entire defense effort over the next seven years. It determines, in particular, the format of the armies, the major equipment that will be acquired or modernized, the technologies that will be developed, and allocates the budgetary means to achieve this.

And the LPM 2024-2030 had no shortage of ambitions, promising to bring the army budget to €67 billion in 2030, twice that which it had in 2015. Even taking into account the past inflation and probable future inflation, this increase is considerable, and would have satisfied, without a doubt, any soldier in the mid-2010s.

Lecornu Senate Military Programming Law
Despite the exemplary work of the Ministry of the Armed Forces and parliamentarians, the LPM 2024-2030 was not designed to respond to the changes observed in the security situation in Europe over the last two years.

However, the geopolitical context, in Europe, and in the world, has evolved considerably since the moment when the Strategic Review, on which the LPM was built, was written. Thus, in the fall of 2022, and the winter of 2023, Russia was struggling in Ukraine, the latter preparing, with confidence, a spring counter-offensive which was intended to be decisive, in particular to reach Crimea.

The Russian armies then had to call for partial mobilization to replace the troops lost during the first months of the war, and the country's defense industry seemed very handicapped by Western sanctions. In the opinion of all experts, it would take the Russian armies and their defense industry well over a decade to regain operational power similar to that which they had before the war.

A rapidly deteriorating European geostrategic context

The observation, twelve months later, is clear. Not only did the Ukrainian counter-offensive fail, but Kyiv's armies suffered significant losses, eroding its offensive and defensive capabilities.

At the same time, the Russian armies seem to encounter no difficulty in renewing their numbers, despite appalling losses, and benefit from a constant flow of ammunition and new equipment, to replace those lost or consumed in combat.

Worse still, not only does Russian industry seem perfectly capable, today, of replacing losses in equipment and supplying munitions to the forces engaged in Ukraine, but, at the same time, European and American industries, the main supporters the Ukrainian armies, on the other hand, are incapable of doing so.

The rapid transformation of the Russian defense industry gives Moscow and its armies means, today, that it was almost impossible to imagine on such a timetable in the fall of 2022, when the Review was written. Strategic 2022.

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