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The French Army in Peril

"The Defence? This is the first reason for the State. It can't be missed without destroying itself. "(Charles de Gaulle)

In 2011, Obama's former Defence Secretary Robert Gates has indicated that the current, single-sided (financial) burden sharing between Americans and Europeans in NATO was no longer sustainable. It is now, during Obama's second mandat as the time has come to end this fiscal asymmetry in NATO. The asymmetry which would be more logical for American disengagement on the European continent. And the European Union is at the crossroads: develop after decades of deadlock common European defence policy with a common European army or going back to 1991 when Europeans proved unable even to guarantee our security of their continent in the Balkans.

We try to answer the question what state the French army found for this challenge? Firstly it should be noted that the defence effort was to NATO standards - that is to say, excluding pensions and police outside - 2% of GDP in 1997, before stabilizing in the last ten years between 1.6% and 1.7%. In 2012, it was 1.55%. In 2015, he barely exceed 1.3%. In our days it became clear that the model defined in the White Book (2008) is no longer sustainable, despite the efforts that the government has made to the defence and the armed forces to optimize. 15 years and the end of conscription, defence capability is sized on average € 32 billion constant in 2012. The new year budget program € 29 billion in 2015, almost 10% less. During the period 2009-2011, despite a number of unplanned expenses that the army had to finance it received 98% of the expected resources, representing 2% missing still € 1.9 billion, nearly two years of production Rafale or ten tanker (MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport), or the entire program MUSIS (Multinational Space-Based Imaging System), successor of Helios observation satellite. 211 million had already been canceled on Defence Mission 2011 to repay a portion of € 460 million due to the Taiwan frigates affair after the rendering of international arbitration.

The year 2012 marks an irreversible break. Between 2010 and 2012, the operating budget has been reduced by 7.5% and the operational readiness activity decreased gradually with decreasing appropriations scheduled maintenance of equipment over the period. External operations remaining priority, there is far more of an army with two speeds - one warring party and the other not. Credits in 2012 are now down € 1.2 billion from the annuity originally planned. Combined with the cumulative gap of € 1.9 billion by the end of 2011 and without prejudice to the conditions of the management end of 2012, the decline will exceed 3 billion at the end of the year. In addition, for 2012, the end of the management is turned on. Already formally identified the additional OPEX and increase operational fuel, for a total of € 250 million. Economies decided needed to freeze recruitment of 2000 people in 2012 and decreased again in 2013, the categorical measures. For the 2013 budget, more than € 1.8 billion may be canceled or moved a total of € 5.5 billion. And the defence will have 60% of job cuts in the public sector for the year 2013: 7234 deleted on 12 298 in total. In 2012 and 2013 the French army maintained control of 34 NH-90 helicopters in the transport (version ground forces), the launch of Rafale's F3-R standard, the launch of the MRTT and receiving multi-mission frigate (FREMM) Aquitaine. Savings on equipment represent € 850 million. Total reduction commitments reached € 5.5 billion in 2012 and 2013, nearly € 4.5 only for weapons operations, with the rest divided between small armies equipment and infrastructure.

Over two years, it represents more than half of an annuity. And the defence budget will decrease by 4% in the period 2012-2015. The result, the cumulative difference between the resources provided today and the initial programming 10 billion for 2013-2015, almost a year payroll of the Department without pensions or the entire program of six Barracuda nuclear attack submarines (SSN).
The government plans to move delete an annuity full budget for the period 2014-2020, that is to say, not less than € 30 to 40 billion over the € 220 billion planned for the period preceding the White Book. It would be correlated with a reduction project 30 000 operational positions in the armed forces (almost all at the Land Army, the Navy : 3000 and 2000 at the Air Force). What would the actual ground forces shortly to a volume equivalent to that of the British Army (80,000 men). Never will the French army had a strength as low volume in its history since the Revolution.

How to explain this extreme pressure on the defence budget? Very simply by the fact that the army is the only public institution can not rely on a trade union opposition and the political feels, therefore, entitled to all edicts. We think of the scandal of the "double campaign" (1) refused until 2011 to military personnel who served in Afghanistan. With this hypocritical "double campaign" politicians have managed to sow discord in the entire French army. Morale in the army is fragile and it is now that we must discuss the scandal around salary.

The Ministry of Defence has decided to set up several systems information of "human resources" (SIRH). In the Ground forces, the information system was called Concerto. Louvois (Logiciel unique à vocation interarmées de soldes / Software for joint military balances) is the declination of component "wages" of all armies HRIS (Rhapsodie for the Navy, Orchestra for the Air Force, Agorha for the Ground forces. Problem: This software sold at exorbitant prices which the project management and maintenance are provided by the company Steria doesn't work. Founded in 1969, Steria is the third French service company in computer engineering technology (IT) and currently the sixth in Europe with a turnover of 1.75 billion euros in 2011 and 20,000 employees in 16 countries. The total turnover, Steria is the sixth largest IT services company in Europe. No financial sanction has so far been taken against the company...

Since the connection Louvois to Concerto and failover unilateral balance management in October 2011, system failures persist and multiply: Moving expenses not reimbursed, balances not paid or paid with six months or one year period, then paid or aberrant manner (one fifth of the salary is received), all of snags due to the plethora of bugs that affect Louvois. The direct consequence is a radical insecurity of families: a demonstration of military wives took place last year, the first of its kind, but the movement was quickly stifled by pressure on their husbands. Result: some soldiers, waiting for the payment of their salaries, are ruined. Bank prohibitions and they are forced to borrow to repay loans already contracted even though they are paid! In the most extreme cases, divorce their wives for gaining status as a single woman and receive allowances. Note that only the former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Paloméros, noting these failures repeatedly, had the courage to refuse passage to Louvois. He has since gone on to serve as NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Norfolk.

In conclusion we can say that the new model of the French army is one example of Obama's model of indirect intervention (training on the back of foreign forces with the support of our aviation and small contingents of special forces such as that provided in Mali and what was done in Libya) and intelligence ...