Livre blanc leaks: France soon to announce massive defense cuts

Due to budget cuts, France will no longer be an "expeditionary’ power"

From Olivier de France, European Council on Foreign Relations:  Initial budget projections for France’s defence effort started leaking yesterday. . . .

[T]he talk is of a shift so massive that it would simply change the face of French foreign policy. To put it briefly, France would lose its capacity to project power abroad. It would no longer be an ‘expeditionary’ power – that is, it would no longer have the ambition or capacity to send regular armed forces outside domestic borders, enter a foreign theatre first, engage, autonomously do battle, and then stay there to see it out. In short, it would lose its capacity to do Mali.

French defence would still be tasked with ensuring sovereignty and protecting territorial integrity – albeit with an unlikely combination of nuclear deterrence and policing forces. And it would still have the capacity to send special forces to areas where France’s vital interests are at stake. But it would lose its ability to send regular troops to wrestle a country from the grip of radical jihadist groups, to name but one – entirely theoretical – example.

The worse case scenario makes even bleaker reading30 regiments disbanded, Rafale fighter jet production lines unplugged, the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier sold off to Brazil or India and the flagship A400M programme scrapped. . . .

We are not there yet. The worst case scenario seems improbable for a number of reasons – not least that the Charles de Gaulle is, after all, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. It would not do either at this point to discard the possibility of a media strategy. The thinking at the Ministry of Finance might be that by brandishing the apocalyptic option it can hope to shepherd through the dismal one.  (photo: AFP)

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