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  1. Is it time to examine more closely how the French defense establishment is run?

    France and the UK have a similar world role, and almost identical defense budgets. How then are the French able to maintain almost 200,000 extra active service troops and a similar number again of reserve troops?

    It would be understandable if their troops had little training, were equipped with AKs and are in general shit; however, this is not the case. They manage to retain a far broader spectrum of capabilities than we manage, with the addition of developing almost all of their weapon systems unilaterally (including nuclear). Furthermore it is usual for them to maintain approximately 30,000+ personnel on overseas operations.

    Where are we going wrong...?
  2. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Consider also the Gendarmerie is paid out of the same budget.

    Perhaps if the UK defense budget went on military things, rather than defense industry job/contract maintenance schemes it would work better....
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Just guessing here, but it is not that long ago (2001?) that they ended conscription. I'd imagine they still have a vast amount of materiel left over from those days that is now surplus to requirements. Sure, their operating expenses will still be high, but their capital expenditure must be less per capita than the UK.
  4. Alsacien, you are probably right. Maybe it's because we get our priorities in the right order.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Somewhat tongue in cheek, might a contributory factor be that the french field a two part army: a national army for the defence of la belle France and the foreign-manned but French led Legion Etranger for overseas jollies? One might be tempted to add that the french have been (Libya excepted in recent years) quite judicious in which punch ups they elect to participate in.
  6. About 25/30% of the FFL is made up of Frenchmen.
  7. There was a major review of French defence published in 2008 (see link below). The govt then took note of the SDSR and I believe are now considering a revision.


    Large chunks of infrastructure are being sold off and a new Joint staff HQ is being built on the edge of Paris (again link below but in FR) as a way of reducing costs (and staff).

    Balard 2015

    There is also a much closer cooperation with the UK since that was given the go ahead last November, sharing assets/training/procurement thus reducing costs.
  8. Not really.

    Because most French troops are about as well trained and combat capable as a boy scout troop?
  9. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Well the French solution is a bit more open - they shovel government cash into protectionist military industries directly, they are probably even more unviable commercially than the UK ones, at least judging by the relative sales abroad.
  10. On HERRICK I shared a room with a Frenchman - his view was that the French army has major pay problems (a French WO earns what a senior Cpl earns in the UK), has no allowances, so anyone based in Paris with their family is living in penury, and there are major retention issues. Poor pay and conditions mean that there is a dearth of good people in the system, and few people want to join.
    He was also scathing about French kit and equipment, and said that the UK loadout for HERRICK was stunning - he showed me the kit the French got and its abotu 20 years behind our own. They have no UOR process to speak of and their kit isn't responsive to the environment.
    They look superficially impressive but have major structural, HR and equipment issues, and are laden with a small number of hugely expensive high end capabilities like the nuclear deterent that cost more than our own and provide no extra capability.
  11. What he said.

    I seem to recall a report some years ago into the actual capability of the homeland French Air Force. It had 12 fighters that were 100%, the rest were down for a variety of reasons.

    Same with their Navy, looks impressive, but most of the ships are at best 2nd class units and cannot do long term deployments.

    C'est magnifique, mais, c'est ne pas un militaire deployable.
  12. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    So substantially more than we have then.... ;-)
  13. What I read here is the habitual series of clichés on the FRA armed forces....


    -pay is crap when not deployed when compared to the BA but personal experience has shown me that most armies pays are crap when compared to the BA so not really a surprise there.

    -retention: good in good units, less so in others. The more the units deploys, the better retention is because pay is then raised (roughly twice the normal pay) ; at the moment, combat and CSS units deploy a lot so both recruiting and retention are not real issues even though I am sure the recruiters would like to have more choice so as to be able to have a higher selection rate for new recruits.

    -FFL does all the fighting; this one is getting really old; out of 72 FRA servicemen killed in Afghanistan, only 8 belonged to the FFL and two of those were non-combat deaths.

    -quality and availability of the Air Force and Navy; the current show over Libya says more than anything I could write, as well as the number of combat missions. FRA AF and Navy have and still are conducting far more missions than the RAF and RN.

    -Nuclear deterrence. French developed, owned and operated. Enough said.

    -UOR: of course there are UORs in the FRA armed forces; to name just a few recent ones: HK 417s, 7,62 mm MINIMI, HK GMGs, Nexter Aravis MRAPs, etc, etc. What is true is that currently, only deployiong soldiers get the good kit; the others have to make do with very very bad personal equipment.
  14. Grumblegrunt

    Grumblegrunt LE Book Reviewer

    they havent got their own BAE yet but thales is learning.
  15. So basically, the Frog armed forced are pretty crap, crap pay, crap conditions and crap equipment until they are deployed and them they get some half decent kit, but other than that, they're crap.

    And Libya? Lets see how the French cope with high intensity operations rather than bombing a dead man walking… we know what we can do - The French? Claims not matched by examples mon aimes.