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Thread: French military (catch all)

  1. #21
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    An aggressor can prepare for war in few years and be ready for just a short period - this is much more efficient and affordable than to be ready all the time.

    I prefer another approach to keep such aggressors at bay.
    I'd prefer if we kept the know-how, developed equipment that can quickly be produced in great quantity, were alert with a moderate force and budget and ready to expand quickly.
    Meanwhile, arms control treaties can keep costs down for everyone at conventional war crisis hot spots and alliance frontiers.
    This is to some degree what some European countries do, albeit they fail at preparing seriously for the expansion phase.

    The typical response to such a strategy proposal is the assertion that the world would run amok without the almighty U.S. military as policeman in the background.

    Well, that's a very questionable assumption. We've seen most ground combat power of the U.S. committed to a war and its other ground forces being quite occupied with other than conventional war preparations.
    I don't remember any country being invaded in the meantime (except Somalia by Ethiopia - which was obviously ENCOURAGED by the supposed policeman).

    This suggests that almost the entire ground forces of the U.S. were not necessary to deter any aggressions at the very least during the past years.
    Instead, they were used for the only major aggression in the past years.


    I guess this should be debated somewhere else, as the French don't really seem to follow such a "prepared for everything" approach as their ground forces are not well-prepared for a major conventional war.

    Has anybody statistics about the French 'defence' budget? Shares of personnel, equipment, operations and other costs?
    Their insistence to develop many systems indigenously from usually just one company without competition might have contributed some inefficiencies.

  2. #22
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heh. Off thread but I can tilt at windmills...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    An aggressor can prepare for war in few years and be ready for just a short period - this is much more efficient and affordable than to be ready all the time.
    Depends on how well you want your people trained. Your solution may be more efficient but is highly unlikely to provide a particularly effective force.
    I prefer another approach to keep such aggressors at bay. I'd prefer if we kept the know-how, developed equipment that can quickly be produced in great quantity, were alert with a moderate force and budget and ready to expand quickly. Meanwhile, arms control treaties can keep costs down for everyone at conventional war crisis hot spots and alliance frontiers.This is to some degree what some European countries do, albeit they fail at preparing seriously for the expansion phase.
    Among other things...

    How's that keeping frontiers calm working out in the Balkans...
    The typical response to such a strategy proposal is the assertion that the world would run amok without the almighty U.S. military as policeman in the background.
    Typical response from whom? Not likely to be the response of anyone on this board and certainly not from me. Need to watch those standing broad jumps at erroneous conclusions, they can lead to sprains. I would, however, note that my favorite cartoon from The Economist was the one about ten or so years ago where the little European was standing outside his house obviously on his way to work and talking to his wife as the house next door labeled Bosnia was burning and filled with carnage. He said to his wife "Ask the Americans what they intend doing about this."
    Well, that's a very questionable assumption.
    I agree, yours was a questionable assumption.
    We've seen most ground combat power of the U.S. committed to a war and its other ground forces being quite occupied with other than conventional war preparations. I don't remember any country being invaded in the meantime (except Somalia by Ethiopia - which was obviously ENCOURAGED by the supposed policeman).
    Okay, I agree -- what's your point?
    This suggests that almost the entire ground forces of the U.S. were not necessary to deter any aggressions at the very least during the past years.
    Or it could suggest the the total Armed forces of the US were highly successful in deterring aggression worldwide. Other than in Africa; we tend to leave Africa to all you former colony owners. How you folks doing down there?
    Instead, they were used for the only major aggression in the past years.
    Yep. Two 'aggressions,' Afghanistan in response to an attack on US soil and Iraq in response to many provocations over the years from the ME. Iraq wasn't totally innocent but they really just happened to be geographically central in the ME. That in response to 22 years of probes and attacks on US interests around the world from various state and non-state actors in the ME; we virtually ignored most of those to little avail, they just kept coming -- so our aggression was simply notification that we would accept no more and a belated response to extended provocations. I blame four previous Presidents for not properly responding but they did that in an effort to be nice guys. Futile effort. Little we do will ever satisfy most in the world. So yes, we got aggressive -- probably would not have had some student pilots not failed in getting to near stalls and run into buildings with their aluminum birds...

    Nope, little we do will ever satisfy a good many in the world. Until they want something...
    I guess this should be debated somewhere else
    True. Nothing really to debate. We can differ.
    as the French don't really seem to follow such a "prepared for everything" approach as their ground forces are not well-prepared for a major conventional war.
    Not just the French, that's essentially true of all nations -- because that is the hardest and most expensive thing to prepare for ergo, it gets lip service or the minimum necessary to maintain the capacity to expand -- which is essentially what I suggested before you got all political. It's also what you suggested but you don't want to do anything else. Not sure you'll have that luxury. Apparently, the Bundeswehr isn't at all sure on that score either...

  3. #23
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Pm

  4. #24
    Council Member Tacitus's Avatar
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    Default Fuel Price increase drives French navy to port

    The rapid rise in fuel prices has resulted in the French navy cancelling 3 summer missions. Sacre Bleu!

    Read all about it here, as well as other places, I'm sure.
    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/...-Navy-Fuel.php

    Fuchs may have a point about the cost of war (or at least as Western nations are set up to fight) becoming so excessive as to make it almost prohibitive for some to attempt it. At least unless it is an existential conflict.
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  5. #25
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default France's Livre Blanc

    France's Livre Blanc

    By Judah Grunstein - Cross-posted at Small Wars Journal and World Politics Review

    France's Livre Blanc was finally released today (French version here and here, parts 1&2, both .pdf), and the only real shock is seeing in print what's basically trickled out in leaks and declarations over the past few months. It's a very well-written document, coherently argued and convincingly articulated. As expected, counterterrorism and the integration of defense with homeland security play a prominent role, with an emphasis on developing intelligence capacity, both human and satellite-based, in the context of a newly added Anticipation component. There's also a significant reduction of the French armed forces, from a total of 271,000 to 225,000 by 2015 (Army 131k, Navy 44k, Air Force 50k), mainly from the administrative back office, but which will necessitate politically unpopular base closings.

    But the real story to my eyes is the prominence of Asia as a strategic focus of interest, which surprised me even after having already called attention to it in last week's series. The document doesn't make a case for intervention so much as careful management, calling for the West to take a greater interest in stabilization of region. It makes mention of the continent's three nuclear powers, three major unresolved crises (Korean Peninsula, Taiwan Straits and Kashmir), and the lack of any real regional, multilateral security instrument...

  6. #26
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    France's Livre Blanc was finally released today (French version here and here, parts 1&2, both .pdf)
    Here's the English version: French White Paper on Defence and National Security

  7. #27
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default France to slash military manpower by 15 percent

    PARIS (AP) — France's military will slash its ranks by 54,000 personnel and close dozens of air, army and other bases in an overhaul meant to slim forces at home while making it easier and faster to deploy troops abroad, the prime minister announced Thursday.

    Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the 15 percent cut in manpower and base closings will save billions of dollars but still permit an agile military suited to the country's security needs.

    Like other European countries, France is grappling with aging military equipment and budget constraints while facing new threats such as terrorism.

    Fillon said the military units and bases slated for closure are "ones that are no longer adapted to today's threats."

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j...XwUvQD924EOUG1

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamG View Post
    PARIS (AP) — France's military will slash its ranks by 54,000 personnel and close dozens of air, army and other bases in an overhaul meant to slim forces at home while making it easier and faster to deploy troops abroad, the prime minister announced Thursday.

    Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the 15 percent cut in manpower and base closings will save billions of dollars but still permit an agile military suited to the country's security needs.

    Like other European countries, France is grappling with aging military equipment and budget constraints while facing new threats such as terrorism.

    Fillon said the military units and bases slated for closure are "ones that are no longer adapted to today's threats."

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j...XwUvQD924EOUG1
    Let me guess. The end result will be.....Viva la Legion!
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  9. #29
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
    Let me guess. The end result will be.....Viva la Legion!
    Or more Franco-PMCs.

  10. #30
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Wages are the cause?

    Not solely a French problem, but IISS in comparing defence spending have a pie chart of defence spending, which shows that Western Europe spends 55% and the USA 20% on personnel. Point to ponder.

    davidbfpo

  11. #31
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    Default Cross Reference

    See in this same section, France's Livre Blanc

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=5591

    for the French policy and strategy behind this RIF.

    You have choice of French or English.

    Maybe it will work - if the French public allows deadwood to be removed. Last time that happened was the 1789 Revolution (just joking).

    Vive la Legion - non !

    Vive le 1er régiment d'infanterie de marine !

    http://www.defense.gouv.fr/terre/dec...erie_de_marine

    See the little guy in the avatar (left) cheering his regiment. Non ? No imagination.

  12. #32
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    Thing is, that against the three or four potential "real" global enemies a war has become impossible, thanks to the nukes. What stays are second- and third-rate enemies and proxy wars. If after the end of the Cold War we've seen the big failure to adapt, it is caused by (i) the absence of a worthy enemy, and (ii) the inability of the political leadership to reshape the forces. (Economy and budgets might well do it for them in the next couple of years).

    It is the dark side of the American Empire that from the very beginning it relied much more on armed actions than, say, the British Empire. Once you start to live by the sword...
    As long as a war with China is seen as a possibility and a justification for the current force levels, costs will not go down.
    If that Chinese war were ruled out, forces could easily be cut two thirds. And in the case of the Euro-Armies - they are, as is the whole continent, just fossilized and do not exist for any other reason than that they were always there.


    Somebody mentioned something along the lines of minimal forces, but designed to be expanded in case of war. Total mobilisation it's called I guess.
    I have my doubts - with things moving as slowly as they do these days. I doubt that you could churn out F-22s as fast as P-51s, even with a "total war" economy.
    Prolonged war is dead, at least between nuclear armed powers. Short spurts of violence yes. But for that you just have to work with what's at hand; sometimes maybe with what's in theatre for the lack of time to re-enforce.

  13. #33
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Food for thought:

    Civilians and military experts expected in 1919-1938 that the next major European war (if there would be any) would be all about poison gas warfare. Poison gas bombing against civilians, millions of civilian deaths...and Germany was militarily impotent at that time, till about 1937 at the very least.

    (Almost) no poison gas was used in WW2.



    I believe that this "there will be no war between nuclear powers" is ideology.
    A (kind of) war between nuclear powers on the terrain of a third nation already happened; Russian fighter pilots flew over Korea and fought against U.S. fighter pilots. The intensity of this was greater than the Kosovo Air War.

    Never say never, you'll be caught unprepared if you do.

    The threat of nuclear arms didn't make us save our conventional forces in the Cold War, why should that be a good idea today?

    Our potential challengers are just not ready to strike us within few years, but it might happen in 5-10 years.


    That's why the ability to expand military power quickly and launch that project with little lag is so important.

  14. #34
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Very true...

    Never say never, you'll be caught unprepared if you do.

    The threat of nuclear arms didn't make us save our conventional forces in the Cold War, why should that be a good idea today?
    Good comment and good question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Food for thought:

    ...

    I believe that this "there will be no war between nuclear powers" is ideology.
    A (kind of) war between nuclear powers on the terrain of a third nation already happened; Russian fighter pilots flew over Korea and fought against U.S. fighter pilots. The intensity of this was greater than the Kosovo Air War.

    Never say never, you'll be caught unprepared if you do.

    The threat of nuclear arms didn't make us save our conventional forces in the Cold War, why should that be a good idea today?

    Our potential challengers are just not ready to strike us within few years, but it might happen in 5-10 years.


    That's why the ability to expand military power quickly and launch that project with little lag is so important.

    Korea is a bad example. I wouldn't speak of "nuclear powers" till about the late 1960's. But that's not the point.

    You're German, right? Clausewitz talked about war as "die Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln". You have to ask: what could be so drastic as to cause a direct war among the 3-4 major powers? And: what could realisticly be achieved by such a war? I'm about the opposite of a peacenik, but I fail to come up with an answer.

    And the argument with WW1 and 2 is flawed, since there was no qualitative leap ahead in "Bedrohungspotential" during the 1920's and 30's. Despite airpower and Panzerwaffe - just new toys.

    The ability to annihilate whole chunks of land by automated systems (from about the late 1960's) was such a qualitative leap in Bedrohungspotential. And that leap made old lessons at least suspect. As long as MAD works between the major powers, conventional forces play only third fiddle.

    Did conventional forces change anything during the Cold War? Tactical nukes would just have made them chared skeletons. And it was the nuclear options that kept Ivan from sunbathing on La Côte d'Argent, not the NATO Panzer Divisions.

  16. #36
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Hitler knew that at least his chemists had developed the first nerve gas.
    The threat was increased by increased payload & range of bombers and their assumed ability to always reach their target.

    I know some factors that make a war between nuclear powers on a third nation's soil more likely than you seem to believe.

    Geography:
    Georgia, Ukraine, Taiwan, arctic - ideally suited for the scenario

    Deterrence:
    The belief that a war could end mankind is gone. Exactly because the conflict level is less than all-out preparation for WW3. We wouldn't assume that the Russians use nukes immediately if we came into conflict with them on 3rd party soil, for example.
    The aging and increasingly worn-out Western equipment inventories pose a lesser deterrence as time goes by.

    Alliances:
    NATO continues to exist for convenience. European politicians don't want to play alliance games as in 19th century, but focus on other topics.
    The WEU is actually a sufficient defensive alliance for Europe's security.

    NATO might fall apart if the foreign policy of the USA remains so alien to the European's ideas of a responsible and good policy. The USA hasn't enhanced, but degraded their European allies' national security in the past ten years.
    The Eastern European an British friends would have to side with the close European core nations when NATO falls apart, leaving the USA basically only Australia, Turkey and at least for air defense also Canada as allies.
    This could happen in less than five years.


    I really don't know why European powers degrade their forces to expedition forces voluntarily.
    A collective defense based on assumptions and memories of a past time doesn't seem to be very solid.
    Last edited by Fuchs; 07-28-2008 at 01:03 AM.

  17. #37
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Maybe they either know something

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    ...I really don't know why European powers degrade their forces to expedition forces voluntarily.
    A collective defense based on assumptions and memories of a past time doesn't seem to be very solid.
    you don't -- or they could just have opinions that differ from yours. Either way, everyone from the Albanians to even the normally and nominally neutral Swedes and Swiss and to include your own country are doing just that. So they're all wrong and you're correct?

    Same thing holds true for the collective defense based on the past; while the EU bureaucracy and a couple of nations seem to agree with you on the surface, most of the rest of Europe does not...

  18. #38
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The political dynamics even of a parliamentary democracy don't necessarily yield the correct actions.
    They even don't necessarily follow the people's will.
    The German government's stance to Afghanistan is consistently against a majority of the Germans population, for example.

    Granted, lots of governments thinking differently than me is a reason to question my stance.
    A dozen influential German politicians who coin our foreign and defense policy standing against a 55-80% majority of their 82 million citizens is a reason to question their stance as well.
    So I'm not really alone or part of a minority.

    Back to the dynamics; the German military ops "out-of-area" (outside of NATO territory) have not benefited the nation visibly.
    The appearance (and the speak) of our responsible politicians hints very much into the direction that they PLAY with the Bundeswehr, as an asset to use in foreign policy games just like we used money in earlier times.
    Inf act, our military missions overseas have degraded our national security by adding foes and have cost a lot of money and military readiness.

    And then there's the small detail that I assume to have a better general and military history knowledge than most if not all the top 20 politicians who define that policy (some of which were never in armed forces, none of them has officially studied history afaik - so they have no professional background superiority concerning this, just briefings).

    Finally, some of our military missions overseas were ordered by Scharping, a douchebag who has been exposed to be a liar since then and who fell into deep disgrace. He's now denying doping troubles in the doping-infested national bicycle association that he leads now.


    France has a history of small expeditions and many befriended African nations that depend on this kind of assistance to keep their defense expenditure bearable. They have the expeditionary capability and there's no real need to expand that imho.

  19. #39
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Leadership is rarely popular will personified...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The political dynamics even of a parliamentary democracy don't necessarily yield the correct actions. They even don't necessarily follow the people's will.
    True of course, though I'd suggest the latter is probably generally a good thing; people can be unduly selfish -- and fickle.
    The German government's stance to Afghanistan is consistently against a majority of the Germans population, for example.
    Which may be a case of good leadership overcoming a little selfishness...
    Back to the dynamics; the German military ops "out-of-area" (outside of NATO territory) have not benefited the nation visibly.
    I don't think benefit to Germany is why you have troops in Afghanistan. It certainly is of little to no benefit to the US to have troops there or in Iraq. Maybe there's another reason? Maybe they think it's necessary for the good of Afghanistan...
    The appearance (and the speak) of our responsible politicians hints very much into the direction that they PLAY with the Bundeswehr, as an asset to use in foreign policy games just like we used money in earlier times.
    I think that's why most nations have forces larger than necessary for a mobilization base in times of apparent peace.
    Inf act, our military missions overseas have degraded our national security by adding foes and have cost a lot of money and military readiness.
    Isn't that a shame -- try to do good and suffer for it. We know the feeling, we hate it when that happens -- but we've gotten used to it. You probably will also. Don't lose too much sleep over the foes; we've got tons of 'em.
    And then there's the small detail that I assume to have a better general and military history knowledge than most if not all the top 20 politicians who define that policy (some of which were never in armed forces, none of them has officially studied history afaik - so they have no professional background superiority concerning this, just briefings).
    Does your alleged superiority in this regard extend to all their advisers? Do those briefings tell them things you aren't privy to? Do they make decisions based on different criteria than you would use?
    France has a history of small expeditions and many befriended African nations that depend on this kind of assistance to keep their defense expenditure bearable. They have the expeditionary capability and there's no real need to expand that imho.
    True, and the British have a colonial legacy to worry about and deploy for. OTOH, you'd think the Danes and the Swedes have been out of the colonial business long enough not to bother but they're into it also. And the Dutch -- the Poles; the list goes on...

  20. #40
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The Dutch and Danes have so little troubles ... life as government would be boring without overseas adventures, I guess.
    The Poles clearly do it for bargaining.

    There ARE reasons for those missions, I just don't approve them.

    And as a proponent of more basic and less parliamentary democracy: The Swiss do very fine with it. The fears about it were proved to be wrong on many occasions.
    Anyway - a citizen majority against the mission in Afghanistan impresses me more than the generally despised "Germany is being defended at the Hindukusch" of former defence minister Struck.

    The whole expeditionary stuff would be less worrying if we had demonstrated the ability to deploy at least one of our three divisions fully to the new Eastern NATO border on short notice and sustain it during some weeks of exercises.
    Such basic collective defense skills were afaik never demonstrated.

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