French Military Heads Threaten to Resign Over ‘Grave’ Defense Cuts

French Chief of Defense General Pierre De VilliersFrench army, navy and air force chiefs and its joint chief-of-staff threaten to resign over military spending cuts, with Jean-Yves Le Drian, defence minister, warning they would render foreign operations impossible.

France’s top four military chiefs have threatened to resign if the government makes more cuts to their budget, with the defence minister warning a further drop in spending would leave it “unable to conduct new operations” abroad.

The heads of France’s army [Gen. Bertrand Ract-Madoux], navy [Adm. Bernard Rogel] and air force [Gen. Denis Mercier], along with the military chief-of-staff [Pierre de Villiers], made the unprecedented threat at a meeting last week, according to defence sources.

They warned that any more cuts – beyond those approved in a five-year defence budget in December – would torpedo France’s ability to undertake operations in places like Mali and the Central African Republic that have drawn praise from many allies.

Such a joint resignation would be a first in modern French history.

Reports of the threat came as it emerged that Jean-Yves Le Drian the defence minister, had sent a letter to the prime minister this month warning that more cuts would have “very grave military consequences” and leave France’s terrestrial army “under-equipped and rapidly unable to conduct new operations.”

He also wrote that the forces were in a state of “near exasperation” over current belt-tightening. . . .

The warnings came after Xavier Bertrand, a former centre-Right labour minister in the Nicolas Sarkozy administration, leaked finance ministry plans to shave up to two billion euros per year off the defence budget in coming years.

Image: French Chief of Defense General Pierre De Villiers (photo: French Foreign Ministry)