The writing is on the wall, according to French military officials.
China’s expansion in the Pacific will endanger the European country’s territories there, such as New Caledonia and French Polynesia, and French armed forces in the area must be able to riposte vigorously if necessary.
Military experts also believe the cycle of asymmetrical warfare is coming to a close and that a return to symmetrical, state-on-state conflict is likely.
France’s Army needs to toughen up, says its chief of staff, and he has the strategic plan to do it by 2030.
General Thierry Burkhard, a paratrooper in the Foreign Legion and former commander of its 13th Demi-Brigade and later of the Combined Operations Center, unveiled the 20-page document on Wednesday, Christina Mackenzie of Defense News reported.
Burkhard said implementing the plan is critical because a “recurrence of a major conflict is now a credible hypothesis,” Defense News reported.
But the document also warns that “there are new means of using force, unforeseeable and more insidious, based on intimidation and manipulation, in a new type of warfare, undetectable and disclaimed, to obtain undeniable strategic gains by imposing a fait accompli.”
To “acquire operational superiority,” the French Army must improve its capabilities in the electromagnetic environment, space, cyberspace and information technology, Defense News reported.
It also stressed the importance of “strategic industrial partnerships within Europe,” specifically mentioning the CaMo (Capacité Motorisé, or motorized capacity) program.
The latter will see Belgium receive 382 multirole Griffon armored vehicles as well as 60 reconnaissance and combat Jaguar armored vehicles identical and thus compatible with the French ones.
The report also highlighted the importance of the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System — a joint effort to develop a main battle tank that will replace Germany’s Leopard 2 and France’s Leclerc by 2035, Defense News reported.
There are 12 major projects meant to make the 114,000 French soldiers (of whom 77,000 are ground troops) better prepared for the future of war as described in the report.
These include setting up a new technical school to give noncommissioned officers the stronger technical education they’ll need to use the materiel being delivered under the US$12 billion Scorpion modernization program, Defense News reported.
Burkhard also wants to reorganize the management of military vehicles, handing responsibility back to the regiments so they can independently prepare for operations. He also wants training to be more realistic and to involve new technology.
Other projects involve improving joint and allied interoperability as well as making better use of the reserve force, which currently stands at 24,000 men and women, Defense News reported.
According to Burkhard, these reservists should be given more autonomy and be better spread out over the territory, and their contracts should be better adapted to their very different lifestyles based on full-time profession, academic status and geographic location.
He also said the Army should have a role in educating French youth on the importance of defense and in developing the universal national service, which will become obligatory from 2024 for French individuals born in 2008.