French Military Reform: Lessons for America's Army?

GEORGE A. BLOCH

© 2000 George A. Bloch


From Parameters, Summer 2000, pp. 33-45.

Go to Summer issue Table of Contents.

Go to Cumulative Article Index.


Revealed as too heavy and slow in the 1999 conflict over Kosovo, the US Army currently faces a challenge to its strategic relevance. Among Western militaries, however, it is far from alone in facing this unwelcome news. Most notably the French experienced a similar realization in the aftermath of the Gulf War, where their influence was marginalized by their unwieldy military organization. Consequently their audacious efforts since are filled with insights for the US Army in the potentials and pitfalls of military reform.

The most relevant lesson is perhaps that if it had been left to its own devices, the French army would have pursued a course of incremental change eerily similar to that which critics of current US efforts see today.[1] Their ultimate decision to pursue a more radical course was imposed by politicians, for reasons only partly related to national security. And yet because of the basic disinterest of the political classes in military affairs, the army was able to seize control of the reform movement and direct it toward the army's own preferred ends. In so doing it has created a vision of an inherently flexible force, one that provides political leaders with military options in the event of future crises. And if the army, once known as the "Great Mute" for its political reticence, succeeds in implementing these plans, its own influence and autonomy in government policymaking is bound to increase as well.

Strategic Contradictions: The Situation of the Early 1990s

In contrast to the geopolitical upheavals of the time, France in the early 1990s still retained the defense posture laid down by President Charles de Gaulle 30 years before. Built around a principle of national strategic autonomy, these policies served French interests in the Cold War when, as an associate of NATO remaining outside the unified military structure, France enjoyed the security privileges of NATO membership without sacrificing any of its jealously guarded sovereignty. The key to this strategic autonomy was the possession of an independent nuclear arsenal, the Force de Frappe. Controlled by France alone, these weapons provided an assured national deterrent no matter what the views of its American and European allies.

The central dilemma of French Cold War defense strategy concerned the credibility of this deterrent. Potential aggressors needed to be convinced that there was a willingness to use these weapons. This quandary was neatly resolved by the simultaneous possession of a conventional army of conscripted citizens that was prepared to honor national defense commitments in the face of a Warsaw Pact attack. Armed with tactical nuclear weapons, the army's engagement would signal France's determination to use whatever means required to defend its national interests.[2]

Confined to this secondary role in the nation's defense, an appreciative army found itself transformed into a symbol of French patriotism. Blessed with plentiful low-cost conscripts, this powerful force embodied the nation's aspirations to the rank of the world's "third military power."[3] Simultaneously as it united young men from all walks of life under the colors, it took pride in being the "melting pot where the identity and spirit of the nation is forged, kept alive, and reflected."[4] Still traumatized by the collapse in civil-military relations during the Algerian rebellion--which at several moments threatened to become civil war--the institution greatly valued the presence of the conscripts, whom it saw as a "sacred current of air," and a means to maintain its ties with the nation.[5]

Predictably, doubts about this strategy quickly surfaced after the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall. Obsessed by the defense of the nation's eastern frontier since the 1870s, the army suddenly found itself without any enemies in that direction. What justification was there for universal military service if there was no longer any threat to the nation? But without a powerful army, how could France maintain its international stature next to the economic powerhouse of a reunited Germany?

The outbreak of the Gulf War in 1990 forced these contradictions into the open. Barred from most operations outside France since the early 1960s, conscripts could not be sent to the region without the approval of the National Assembly. But faced with fierce public opposition to military action, French President François Mitterand saw little advantage to a debate over the question.[6] Determined that France not remain on the sidelines, he decreed that only professional troops would fight.

The result was the opposite of what he intended. Ostensibly already organized for war, the army scrambled to cobble together an improvised all-professional force. Overnight some 5,000 professionals from throughout the army found themselves transferred to fill out an expeditionary division of 15,000. For a military of some 250,000, this was not an impressive contribution.[7] Once in Saudi Arabia, moreover, the French remained gallingly dependent upon the United States for tactical intelligence and logistical support, and were ultimately relegated to a role of relative inconsequence.

Later, in the former Yugoslavia, French leaders were forced to relearn many of the same lessons. Unwilling to stand aside in the face of a war in Europe, France maintained over 8,000 troops with the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia by 1995. And yet despite this impressive military commitment, and its determination to break the diplomatic deadlock by force if necessary after the July 1995 fall of Srebrenica, France failed to persuade its allies to follow its lead. Instead, lacking the capabilities to command a combined operation independent of NATO and the United States, it found itself compelled to cede the leadership role to Brussels, and ultimately to Washington.[8]

Heedless of these problems faced by the army, French politicians in the early 1990s slashed defense budgets to cash in on a perceived peace dividend.[9] The generous 1987-91 military programming law had projected equipment-related "Title V" spending to grow by 11 percent in 1987, followed by six percent per year thereafter. In fact, under the pressure of subsequent world events, the actual funds allocated under the annual finance laws fell far short of these objectives. By 1989 the gap between the two stood at 7.58 percent.[10] Efforts to correct these spending plans with a revised programming law only increased the shortfall to 10.19 percent by 1991.

Just as the French military confronted the need for major technological investments, the quantity of funds earmarked for such purposes fell from the equivalent of $18.9 billion in 1990 to $17.4 billion in 1996 without accounting for the effects of inflation. When measured as the cumulative annual differences between funds programmed in advance and funds actually made available to spend, the total equaled a real loss of $5.6 billion, two thirds of which came from the last two years.[11] The result was that long-awaited equipment upgrades were repeatedly delayed and scaled back over the period. For instance, orders for the army's new Leclerc main battle tank decreased from 1,400 in 1986 to 406 a decade later.[12] What all of this meant was that in the absence of a national strategy, defense policy was by default left in the hands of the Finance Ministry.

The White Book: A Strategy for the Future

This stasis in French defense policy would be upset only by the approach of the post-Mitterand era. French presidents have traditionally enjoyed enormous autonomy in foreign and defense policy, informally considered as their "reserved domain."[13] But when forced into a "cohabitation" government with the right-wing Premier Edouard Balladur in 1993, an ailing Mitterand found these privileges challenged. With the upcoming presidential contest of 1995 in his sights, Balladur asserted foreign and defense policies to be a "shared domain," and began a review of the main axes of the national security strategy.[14] Completed in just three months, the grand strategic vision contained in the 1994 Defense White Book appeared just in time to establish Balladur as heavyweight strategic thinker before the onset of the election campaign.[15]

The strategy this document set forth marked a radical change of direction for French defense planning. Gone was the focus on a single major threat, and in its place was a world of threats, none of which appeared to greatly endanger France. Left unresolved, the book warned, such minor problems could grow into real dangers that had no easy solutions. The strategy set forth was therefore one of international activism, intended to manage crises and prevent wars.

For the army this vision promised enormous change from the status quo of the previous 30 years. Henceforth it needed to be ready to "confront scenarios that are much more varied than in the past, and often different from those for which [the nation's defense assets] were hitherto conceived."[16] There would be no threat of a major war in Europe for at least 30 years, the document predicted, adding that even if this proved false there would still be ten years of warning in which to prepare. Instead it declared the future task of the military would be "the prevention and management of crises of variable intensity" at great distance from national shores. In most of these cases, it continued, France would act alongside partners.[17]

Thirty years of concern about national military autonomy had been swept away in the space of a few pages. Whereas de Gaulle always saw French influence enlarged by its ability to act alone, the White Book concluded that henceforth it was the ability to cooperate that mattered. In other words, a nation's influence rested on its capacity to command in situations where "political, military, and regional dimensions mingle from the strategic point of view, while multinational and inter-army [joint] dimensions mix in the military domain." To do this depended upon France's "aptitude to master a few key functions, none of which were nuclear."[18] These included intelligence, strategic mobility, command and control, and doctrine.

A new strategy meant a new army, able "to contribute, if necessary by force, to the prevention, limitation, or settlement of regional crises or conflicts that do not involve risk of extreme escalation."[19] Because these were impossible to foresee, and likely to occur simultaneously, the army must be ready to engage in a major regional contingency as part of a coalition, and at the same time in one or more smaller interventions. "The organization of the forces must be such as to make it possible to split them into elementary cells which may be reassembled on demand, into coherent groups having all the capabilities of command, action, support, and assistance required for the intervention. The principle of modularity will be the condition for the efficacy of the entire organization."[20]

Making Change Happen: The Politics of Military Reform

Armed with this guidance, and freed from political interference by the onset of the elections, the army began its own assessment of force structure options.[21] Headed by General Jean-René Bachelet and entitled The Army of the Twenty-First Century (ADT XXI), this study was an in-depth look at questions of doctrine, organization, equipment, and budget. It was intended to provide the supporting data for the army's reform proposals, and two of its conclusions stand out. First, it revealed that on the basis of cost alone, an all-professional force would be half the size of the mixed professional-conscript alternative. Second, it showed that in light of the uncertain nature of future missions, the force needed a completely refashioned command structure. Together these conclusions formed the rationale behind the army's preference for a reorganized mixed model.

Jacques Chirac, elected President in 1995, agreed that it was high time for a change in the nation's defense establishment. Dramatic gestures here, he thought, would nicely distinguish his government from that of the disinterested Mitterand.[22] The means he announced on 22 February 1996 was an end to military conscription.[23<P255M^J0> "Our borders are at peace, but the world close to us is not as yet," he declared the next day to an audience of military officers. "France expects its armed forces [to] assure the protection of its vital interests and the fulfillment of its international obligations."[24] Legally confined to France, and with only ten months of military service, conscripts could not fulfill these functions. Charles Millon, the new Defense Minister, repeated the intent to Le Monde several days later: "It is the right time to construct a more modern army, one that is stronger, and better able to serve France, its interests, and global responsibilities."[25]

Chirac's decision to end conscription came as a complete surprise to all but the handful of officers who participated in the secret deliberations of the defense reform working group called the Commaunité Stratégique.[26] Painfully aware of the consequences of such a move, the army had consistently advocated a "mixed model" that blended conscripts with professionals. This view, while not shared by the less-conscript-reliant air force or navy, was also that of Defense Minister Millon. Conscription provided a cheap source of high-quality manpower--computer programmers and linguists, for example, who might not otherwise be persuaded to serve. It was, moreover, the best means of recruitment, as a full third of volunteers were conscripts who discovered they liked the army. "What will be the motivation for the volunteers of tomorrow?" asked one military newsletter, if the army were to become "a job, a job like all the others."[27] And finally, as old generals like to growl in the nation's newspapers, the end of conscription opened the "way for the nation to disinterest itself with its own defense."[28]

In agreement with these views the Commaunité Stratégique's initial deliberations focused almost exclusively on the mixed model. But the influence of these men, all of whom were senior military officers and defense policymakers, paled beside those of the President's political confidantes, such as the former Minister of Defense and Foreign Legionnaire Pierre Messmer, a longtime advocate of a professional force. Consequently, with half the allotted time lost, the dismayed members suddenly discovered the President's predisposition and scrambled to put together a credible model.[29] What saved them was the previous year's ADT XXI, which had ironically convinced the army to fight for conscription. Armed with these cost figures, they submitted their final report on 15 February 1996. The President's decision came one week later.[30]

A New Structure: The Army Seizes the Reins

Shocked by Chirac's decision, the army took eight months to tackle the problem. The manpower complexities boggled the mind.[31] More expensive than a conscript force, an all-professional army called into question the force's entire organization of personnel and equipment. Commanders struggled to define the number of cooks, drivers, and maintenance technicians their units could afford. Every change also cascaded through the force's logistical and administrative support systems. There were no easy answers, and time was needed to make sure the changes could be managed once unleashed.

More important, these months gave the institution the chance to forge the internal consensus required to impose its own vision of the future.[32] Little interested in technical details, the politicians left the army free rein to address the important issues of force structure. Consequently the institution, which had languished on the margins of political influence for 30 years, suddenly found itself invited to carve out a new and more important role for itself. In doing so, army planners even dared to tinker with the President's guidance that the structure would be centered around four specialized forces: armored, mechanized, armored rapid intervention, and assault infantry. Instead of rigidly defined forces, the army leaders wanted "modularity," the ability to tailor forces to the needs of the moment.

The idea of modularity had been growing on French defense thinkers for at least 20 years. As early as 1975, a military theorist and army officer, Guy Brossolet, had written a book suggesting that a modular force could resist a Warsaw Pact attack better than the classical corps/division-based model.[33]

Never implemented as a Cold War defense strategy, his ideas contributed to the thinking behind the 1983 creation of the Force d'Action Rapide (FAR).[34] Envisioned as an air-mobile reserve ready to counterattack Warsaw Pact forces in depth, its mostly professional units also proved ideal for France's frequent overseas entanglements.

In this the FAR continued the army's long-held practice of tailoring forces for expeditionary operations, a tradition that included the pre-1960s colonial army and subsequent African interventions.[35] But while such operations typically involved few troops, the growing strength of modern African armies eventually forced France to adopt a less cavalier attitude. The turning point was Operation Manta, launched in 1983 to defend Chad against a Libyan invasion.[36] Four thousand soldiers deployed to the central African nation, armed with the latest in antitank and air defense capabilities. Compelled by the lack of strategic airlift to go by sea to Cameroon, and then by land to Chad, the intervention force required the participation of over 10,000 servicemen, from all three services, for 13 months. The ability to readily conduct this kind of operation was exactly what army leaders wanted as they reviewed their options in 1996.

Convinced of the benefits of modularity, army planners developed two models for consideration.[37] The more conventional choice (Figure 1, below) abolished the division structure and substituted a single Land Forces Command (CFAT) to oversee 51 maneuver regiments organized in nine combined arms brigades. In addition to this the model created four Force Commands (EMF), capable of receiving up to the equivalent of a division for a specific contingency.

Figure 1. The new French army force structure.

The more radical alternative (Figure 2, below) retained the traditional division and brigade headquarters, but relegated them to the role of stand-alone commands under the supervision of the Land Forces Command. Simultaneously this model grouped all the army's regiments into a single pool under the direct supervision of the Land Forces Command, which in time of need would combine them into tailor-made divisions or brigades for deployment to the operational theater.

 Figure 2. Proposed alternative French force structure.

Although the conventional model ultimately prevailed, the radical alternative elicited serious consideration. Army leaders noted that it avoided the creation of expensive extraneous commands and allowed for future cuts of unwanted regiments without disruption. Conversely, to cut a single regiment in the more conventional version would destroy the operational coherency of its entire brigade. Nevertheless they deemed the changes required for the radical model as being too extreme, whereas the transition from divisions to brigades was comparatively simple. Doubts focused on the rapport between a regimental commander and his direct superior when the latter was a four-star general responsible for an additional 50 regiments. Other questions concerned the ability of allies to understand and operate alongside French forces organized in such a different manner. In the end, army leaders realized that if the force module concept worked, and if additional changes were still necessary, it would be possible to move toward the more radical model.

Force Projection: What the Future Holds

Started in October 1996, this transformation will ultimately shrink the army from 239,000 to 136,000 by 2002.[38] The total number of regiments will fall from 129 to only 85.[39] Simultaneously the total forces available for overseas projection will rise from 12,000 to approximately 60,000. The "strategic contract" for their use requires that the army be prepared to deploy either 50,000 non-rotating troops to a major contingency in the context of a European alliance, or 30,000 partially rotating troops and associated logistical assets to a distant theater for a year. This latter scenario also includes the capability to deploy 5,000 troops, rotating every four months, to a simultaneous contingency elsewhere in the world.

Henceforth a strict separation between operational and administrative command responsibilities will be put in place at all levels beneath the General Staff. For instance, the Land Forces Command's responsibilities encompass all operational planning and command of forces, while the army's regional commands assume responsibility for routine administrative matters.[40] In addition, the Land Forces Command will maintain the capability to provide the basic structure of a joint theater headquarters, a combined NATO army corps headquarters, or a French army corps headquarters.

Alongside the Land Forces Command, the army created a Ground Logistic Forces Command (CFLT) to direct two logistics brigades. There was some consternation at the separation of these two commands, which some saw as an artificial constraint devised to keep them subservient to the army General Staff.[41] Others, however, saw the division as justified by the need to divorce the purely operationally focused Land Forces Command from the distraction of the logistics command's daily support responsibilities.[42]

In place of the division will be the four Force Commands. Each led by a major general, these standing operational headquarters will provide the command and control capabilities for rapid force deployment. Their mission is to provide the nucleus of a joint headquarters for a task-organized force of 5,000 French troops, or that of a combined division headquarters for a NATO force of 12,000 to 18,000.[43] In classic conventional warfare, however, the commander of a Force Command is not intended to simply replicate the former operational and tactical roles of the division commander. Instead he is to maintain a strategic vision of events, while the combined-arms brigade commander fights the battle.

Nine combined-arms brigades (two armored, two mechanized, two light armored, one airborne, one mountain infantry, and one helicopter brigade) are being created. Their mission is to "conduct combined-arms combat, bringing to bear all the operational functions necessary to carry the decision, through the employment of a combination of fire and maneuver."[44] But while the combined-arms brigades allow France to retain the capacity to contemplate conventional combat operations, they will not be the basic unit in future force deployments. This role instead goes to the regiment. Fifty-one maneuver regiments, supported by 15 logistics regiments and 19 specialized support regiments, will provide the basic modular elements for task force composition.

Doctrinal Evolution: The Mastery of Violence

Aware that modern political leaders want their soldiers to stop or prevent wars, rather than fight them, the French army realized that to succeed in its new role it also needed to rethink its views on how to use force. All too often it seemed that conventional armies found themselves ill-suited to the situations they confronted, with neither enemies nor exit strategies being clearly defined. Army leaders concluded that it requires a different operational approach to "restore order" than is needed to win a classical military victory. To address this question, and to correct what was seen as an inability to operate without an opponent, the army has defined two operational modes in its concept of employment:[45]

. The Mastery of Violence: To prevent, contain, and strictly control the escalation of violence in a manner that includes from the very beginning of the operation a totality of political, diplomatic, humanitarian, and media actions.

. Coercion by Means of Force: To impose the national or international will by the engagement, in a reversible manner, of forces best suited to compel the designated adversary to renounce his objectives.

While the second mode represents a more traditional use of military force, the first represents a new departure in French doctrinal thought. It is not a peacekeeping doctrine. In fact, its author, former armor officer and army maverick General Loup Francart, wrote it in part as a reaction to efforts to strictly differentiate between combat and peacekeeping. It is an attempt to think through the ways that force can be used in violent situations where there are no declared enemies.[46] Approved in November 1997 by the Army Chief of Staff, General Mercier, it is contained in the current draft joint doctrine for the employment of operational forces and is scheduled to become official army policy in 2006.[47]

The heart of Francart's analyses is that violence itself, rather than an identifiable opponent, will likely be the primary future enemy of French and allied soldiers. Consequently, operations must first be analyzed so that commanders can "penetrate the rationality or the irrationality of the various parties," which while not being considered as real enemies, "cannot be regarded as neutral elements."[48] He or she must distinguish between a variety of dynamics, ranging from actual hostility to generalized unrest, to determine the nature and degree of force required to "control, dominate, and eliminate" the threat. Since the aim of military action is to achieve exactly this end-state, it must be employed in a manner to "remove from the belligerents both their physical and moral freedom of action" without provoking an escalation in their opposition.[49] This requires that a commander understand an environment's operational dimensions (land, sea, air, human, electromagnetic), and networks (human and physical), and be able to assert control over them.

A New Army: Major Axes of Cultural Change

Together these changes in strategy, organization, and doctrine add up to a new army. Symbolic of these reforms is the new willingness--and even enthusiasm--to participate in combined operations. This attitude stems from both the Gulf War and the interventions in the former Yugoslavia, where France's limited military capabilities marginalized its influence in the diplomatic arena and compelled its forces to operate under de factoAmerican command.[50] "To enter onto the staffs of NATO," wrote one well-known colonel about the lessons of Bosnia, "is to assure our continued power to affect events."[51] The army agrees, as it makes clear in its second Conduct of the Transition Order: "France can not stay outside of international affairs. . . . The army must therefore participate in the actions brought by the country to maintain its role and rank in the world; in respect to its engagements with international organizations, the priority will remain the maintenance of interoperability with the armies of Europe and NATO."[52] This meant, the order continued, a massive effort to promote knowledge of English, the adoption of command structures similar to those of the alliance, and the placement of officers on the staffs of combined joint task forces "whenever the opportunity presented itself."[53]

Of course this transformation has not been entirely to the army's liking. The President imposed the end of conscription, despite the army's opposition. The consequences of this change frighten traditionalists, who fear that the citizen's army has been replaced by a force that seems dangerously "utilitarian," and free from democratic control.[54] A telling example of the potential for misuse can be seen in the 1994 Operation Turquoise in Rwanda. Ostensibly deployed to stop the genocidal violence sweeping the country, recent revelations about political and economic ties between President Mitterand and Hutu extremists have prompted accusations that the real French objective was to protect those responsible for the massacres. "Essentially," one general bitterly recalled for Le Figaro, "we were just obedient Hussars."[55]

But concerns that the army will become a modern version of the Teutonic Knights are probably misplaced.[56] It is more likely that the course of change adopted will result in a more influential role for the service than has been the case for 30 years. "Armies will be more and more judged on the `services rendered,' which means that militaries will be give numerous missions, other than war," predicts the same colonel quoted above, in light of his experiences in Bosnia. Just as has occurred in Washington, French politicians will turn to their soldiers when faced with the crises of the future, whether or not these amount to war in the classic sense. This "militarization" of foreign policy must inevitably raise the visibility of the army in Paris, as well as in the operational theater. That this is the case is due to the confused nature of recent military engagements. "In [today's] theatre of operations the previous radical distinction of [political and military] roles is no longer acceptable," writes the colonel. "War is no longer the opposite of peace; it is a mixture of phenomena, from which the political and the military cannot be distinguished."[57] In other words, to be effective, French soldiers must become politicians.

More worrisome for the army is the danger that political leaders won't spend the funds needed for an effective force-projection capability. In fact the important annual Title V allocations slipped from $17.4 billion in 1996 to $13.3 billion in 1999 under the pressure of reform-related expenses.[58] This was exacerbated by a sudden unanticipated increase in funds required for external operations, which rose from around $340 million in 1998 to more than $800 million in 1999.[59] And while the funds have increased in the 2000 budget to 85 billion Francs, that is still less than the 86 billion Francs (or $17 billion in 1995 currency) promised in the 1997-2002 Military Programming Law.[60]

If the funds are found, and if luck is on their side in future budget battles, then credit goes to the army, which through foresight and planning largely succeeded in wresting control of the reforms thrust upon them by the nation's political leaders. These changes did not come easily. There remain elements in both France and its army that are disquieted by this future. It is certain that without the combined pressure of budget decreases and the sudden end to conscription, any reforms would have been incremental, if undertaken at all. But once the inevitability of radical change became clear, it was the army rather than the politicians which determined the direction the change took. In doing so, the army staked out a new role for itself, one that is potentially both more influential and autonomous than that which it has long held. In other words, the French army of tomorrow will be, on the whole, the creation of its soldiers rather than of its politicians.


NOTES

1. See for instance Stephen Lee Meyers, "Army is Restructuring with Brigades for Rapid Response," The New York Times, 13 October 1999; and Andrew Krepinevich, Whither the Army? (Washington: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2000).

2. Frédéric Bozo, La France Et L'otan de la Guerre Froide au Nouvel Ordre Européen (Paris: Masson, 1991).

3. Philip H Gordon, French Security Policy After the Cold War (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1992), p. 5. About post-Algerian War military modernization see Michel Martin, Warriors to Managers: The French Military Establishment Since 1945 (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1981).

4. Ramu de Bellescize and Jacques de Zélicourt, Le Piège de L'Armée Professionelle (Paris: François-Xavier de Guibert, 1997), p. 133.

5. Ibid.

6. A September 1990 poll found 83 percent of respondents "opposed to military action under any circumstances." See Julius W. Friend, The Long Presidency: France in the Mitterand Years, 1981-1995 (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1998), pp. 240-41.

7. In comparison, the United Kingdom sent 35,000 from an army of only 160,000. See Le Monde, 25 February and 18 April 1991.

8. Thierry Tardy, "Le Président Chirac et la Bosnie-Herzégovine: Les Limites d'une Politique," Relations Internationales et Stratégiques, No. 25 (Spring 1997), pp. 141-56.

9. Patrice Buffotot, "La Pensée Unique Triomphe dans la Défense," La Croix, 24 July 1998.

10. Claude Carlier, "L'Effort de Défense de la Veme République: La Programmation Militaire, 1960-1993," in Histoire Militaire de la France, Vol. 4, de 1940 a Nos Jours, ed. André Corvisier and André Martel (Paris: PUF, 1994), pp. 435-37.

11. Buffotot, "La Pensée Unique Triomphe dans la Défense," p. 98.

12. Patrice Buffotot, "Le Temps des Réformes," in La Défense en Europe: les Adaptations de l'Après-Guerre Froide, ed. Patrice Buffotot (Paris: Documentation Française, 1998), p. 101.

13. William T. Johnsen and Thomas-Durell Young, "France and NATO: The Image and the Reality," Parameters, 24 (Winter 1994-95), Internet, http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/parameters/1994/young.htm.

14. Ronald Tiersky, The Mitterand Legacy and the Future of French Security Policy, McNair Paper 43 (Washington: National Defense University, 1995), pp. 41-42.

15. Livre Blanc sur la Defense 1994, with prefaces by Edouard Balladur and François Léotard (Paris: La Documentation Française, 1994).

16. Ibid., p. 76.

17. Ibid., p. 83.

18. Ibid., p. 78.

19. Ibid., p. 83.

20. Ibid., p. 114.

21. Général Jean-René Bachelet, interviewed by author, 12 January 1999, Paris.

22. In addition to the end of conscription, the new President also dramatically resumed the French nuclear testing program after his inauguration. Paul-Ivan de St Germain, interviewed by author, 28 December 1998, Paris.

23. Jacques Chirac, interview by Alain Duhamel and Anne Sinclair, TF1 and France 2, 22 February 1996.

24. Jacques Chirac, 23 February 1996, SIRPA Actualité, p. 35, emphasis added.

25. Charles Millon, "Vers une Défense Nouvelle," Le Monde, 24 February 1996, emphasis added.

26. Général Le Roy, Délégation Générale des Armements, interviewed by author, 7 January 1999, Paris. General Le Roy served on the Commaunité Stratégique.

27. L'Epaulette, No. 130 (1st Trimester, 1998), pp. 43-45.

28. Patrice-Henry Desaubliaux, "Le Général Valéry: Le Service National - Facteur de Cohésion," Le Figaro, 19 February 1996.

29. Général Le Roy interview.

30. Buffotot, "La Pensée Unique Triomphe dans la Défense," p. 98.

31. Général Bachelet interview.

32. Lieutenant Colonel Léonard, Etat-Major de l'Armée de Terre, Cellule d'Etudes et de Prospective, interviewed by author, 4 January 1999, Paris.

33. Guy Brossolet, Essai sur la Non-Bataille (Paris: Belin, 1975).

34. Général Bachelet interview.

35. Eric de la Maisonneuve, "Ordre Divisionnaire et Modularité," Perspectives Stratégiques, 8 (May 1995).

36. Général Bachelet interview; Friend, p. 233.

37. Lieutenant Colonel Léonard interview.

38. Buffotot, "Le Temps des Réformes," p. 100.

39. French regiments number approximately 1,200 soldiers.

40. The CFAT was stood up in June 1998. It is based in Lille, where it is close to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, and the headquarters of the Western European Union and NATO in Brussels.

41. Colonel Marc Wood, French army attaché, discussions with author, November-December 1998, Embassy of France, Washington, D.C.

42. Général Le Roy interview.

43. The first operational deployment of an EMF occurred in 1998 when one under the command of General Valentin deployed to Macedonia to command the possible rescue of OSCE peace verifiers in Kosovo.

44. République Française, Etat-Major de l'Armée de Terre, "Le Concept de Brigade Interarmes," internal memorandum, 10 October 1998.

45. An "operational mode" is defined as "the general manner of operating on a theatre of operations in order to reach one or several objectives selected at the strategic level." République Française, Ministère de la Défense, Le Concept: d'Emploi des Forces, 1998 ed. (Paris: Service D'Information et de Relations Publiques des Armées, 1997), p. 28. Translation by author.

46. The initial formulation of the new doctrinal thinking entitled "Maîtrise de la Violence" has been set forth in (Général Loup Francart), République Française, État-Major, Armée de Terre, Mémento sur l'Action des Forces Terrestres au Sein des Forces Armées: TTA 900, Édition provisoire, 1997. The author gathered the background information during interviews with Général Francart and his assistant Jean-Jacques Patry, Centre de Recherche du Commandement de la Doctrine et de l'Enseignement Militaire Supérieur, both interviewed by author, 6 January 1999, Paris.

47. République Française, Etat-Majors des Armées, Division Emploi, Doctrine Interarmées d'Emploi des Forces en Opération (Paris: Division Emploi, 30 June 1999).

48. Général Loup Francart and Jean-Jacques Patry, "Mastering Violence: An Option for Operational Military Strategy," unpublished English language summary of the TTA 900 (photocopy), Paris, December 1998, p. 3.

49. Ibid.

50. Diego Ruiz Palmer, "France's Military Command Structures in the 1990s." in Command in NATO after the Cold War: Alliance. National, and Multinational Considerations, ed. Thomas-Durell Young (Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: US Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, 1997), p. 103; Tardy, p. 154.

51. Emmanuel de Richoufftz, Pour Qui Meurt-On? (Paris: Addim, 1998), p. 95.

52. République Française, Ministère de la Défense, Armée de Terre, Conduite de la Transition: Ordre No 2 Janvier 1998 - Juillet 1999 (Paris: 1998), p. 199.

53. Ibid., p. 13.

54. Bernard Paqueteau, "De La Nation Armée à la Société Défendue: Que Reste-t-il de l'Esprit de Défense?" in Retour à l'Armée de Métier, ed. Jean-Pierre H. Thomas and François Cailleteau (Paris: Economica, 1998), pp. 93-95.

55. Arnaud de la Grange, "Les Sales Guerres de l'Armée Française," Le Figaro, 24 June 1998.

56. Jacques Isnard, "Vent de Fronde dans l'Armée Française," Le Monde, 14 March 1996

57. Richoufftz, pp. 215-16.

58. Olivier Provost, "Le Ministre de la Défense Souhaite une Stabilisation des Crédits d'Armement," La Tribune, 18 March 1998; see also "Budget 2000: Une Encoche dans la Défense," Le Figaro, 15 July 1999.

59. Vianney Aubert, "Kosovo: Une Addition proche de 4 Milliards," Le Figaro, 10 June 1999.

60. République Française, Assemblée Nationale, Loi n. 96-589 du 2 juillet 1996 relative à la Programmation Militaire pour les Années 1997-2002. See also "Budget 2000: Une Encoche dans la Défense," Le Figaro, 15 July 1999.


George A. Bloch is a Paris-based writer on defense topics, currently under contract with Jane's Intelligence Review to write on the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. He is a former US Marine captain and West European Foreign Area Officer, with a master's degree in international affairs and strategic studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His expertise in the French military dates from an assignment with the US Defense Attaché Office in Paris, as well as subsequent research.


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Reviewed 9 May 2000. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil