“The military programming law proposes a sampling of means which is only sustainable in times of peace”

Irussian invasion ofUkraine reminded Europeans of their military vulnerability. Despite global rearmament, American incantations to do more of its part in the defense of the continent, Europe, grappling with an anemic economy, skeptical as to the urgency of its strategic awakening, had postponed until the last moment its catch-up. The result is known: US now provides 60% of military aid to Ukrainewith the member countries of the European Union (EU) barely reaching the 25% mark.

However, the shock was not without effect. Germany, a sleeping giant since its reunification, has set up a special fund of 100 billion euros for the re-equipment of the Bundeswehr and is moving towards a military expenditure of 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP), Poland has announced that it is aiming for a floor of 3% from 2023.

France is no exception, and the new military programming law (LPM) 2024-2030 also proposes an increase of more than 100 billion euros over the next seven years. In a context of high debt and pressure on public spending, this effort is not insignificant and can be welcomed.

A format inherited from the post-cold war era

Unlike other European nations, however, France is not openly committing to a return to an army model oriented towards the type of war that is taking place today in Ukraine. While claiming a “pivot to high intensity”the bill essentially perpetuates a format inherited from the post-Cold War period, aiming to maintain capacities to cover the entire spectrum of conflicts, but at the cost of a sampling of means that is only sustainable in time. of peace.

On reading the report annexed to the bill, it is striking to note the almost identical maintenance of the army format announced five years ago in the “2030 Ambition” [« 1.2 Une ambition 2030 pour construire un modèle d’armée à la hauteur des enjeux stratégiques »]. This observation contrasts with a political discourse making the war in Ukraine a historic turning point, calling for the adoption of a war economy and a major transformation of our armies.

First, let’s talk about the level of operational ambition. In 1994, the French armies were required to be able to provide, in their maximum commitment scenario, a contingent of 50,000 soldiers for the land component. This ambition increased to 30,000 soldiers in 2008, then to 15,000 in 2013. This operational contract » has not changed, while the strategic environment has deteriorated and NATO’s level of ambition has increased tenfold.

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