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Budget, morale, performance: the warnings of the Chief of Staff of the Armed

January 5 category:Political
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Budget, morale, performance: the warnings of the Chief of Staff of the Armed

According to Admiral Guillaud, armies can not honor the maximum operational contract set by the 2008 White Paper.

Guilloteau JP / L'Express

What is the state of the French army?

It is mixed. France has a good defense tool with acknowledged success on the international stage. While living the most significant reform since 1962, the armies were able to perform all the tasks set by the government. In Afghanistan, Côte d'Ivoire and Libya, these are successes achieved in difficult conditions. In Afghanistan, 88 of our soldiers lived their commitment to the gift of their lives, and hundreds more were injured. Few armies in the world are able to intervene outside their borders with such efficiency and such responsiveness. But today, this tool presents fragilities in the economic and financial environment that we know, could affect its coherence.

Which ones?

Some hardware fail us. Libya has yet demonstrated: we lack control systems against anti-aircraft sites, drones and tanker aircraft. Our reserves are too precisely dimensioned: the level of stocks of spare parts and equipment availability prevent us Sign in duration. Equipment maintenance affects the training of personnel.

But the performance of a professional army requires a high level of preparation. I am responsible for the guarantee, under the authority of the president, army chief. The war that we imagine is rarely the one we lead. We need to consider a wide variety of situations, both in terms of scenarios and volume of committed forces. The maximum operational contract, set by the 2008 White Paper, plans to projected in a theater 30 000 men for one year and deploy a carrier battle group, and 70 combat aircraft. As it stands, it is not achievable.

For what reasons?

The 2009-2014 military planning law, developed on the basis of the 2008 White Paper, suffered the brunt of the economic crisis. The defense budget has deviated from its original path [he has already lost more than 3 billion euros for three years]. Or any discontinuity in funding has strategic, operational and industrial impacts that may be irreversible. The time unit weapons programs and human resources is the decade. Do not take this into account weakens our armies. In the longer term, this could jeopardize our ability to meet future strategic challenges. That is why the next budgetary decisions should not give in to the lure "short-termism". This situation further complicates the reform of the Ministry, including the deadline was 2015: in addition to a redefinition of the military map and a complete reorganization of support, 54 000 jobs have been eliminated in seven years.

The morale of the armed forces is to "alert threshold", you say ...

Morale is good when men are in operation: they do what they have committed. The General Staff of the Armed pays great attention to deploy trained people, trained and equipped. This does not preclude the concerns about the future. The staff feels a deterioration in working conditions. It does not always perceive the recognition of its efforts and its specificities.

I recall that we are not civil servants but agents of the state, 65% are under fixed-term contracts, for an average of six to seven years. Careful to reform over-accumulation, without time to assimilate them: this "reformitis" causes a real weariness. No state institution has experienced a change of such magnitude and so fast. Or morale affects their fighting spirit.

What requests Bercy you seem unacceptable?

Reduce arbitrarily advancing military is not eligible. Bercy is in his role when he asks to control payroll. However, the budget does not have to impose a way forward. It is the prerogative of the Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, which includes also all his energy to address this requirement, with, I think, some success. The military is not the civilian world. The recognition of the military is, essentially, through its advancement. What government would accept being told: next year is 30%? Everyone would be in the street!

Especially since the money is not always paid in due time. What do you do to make up for delays in the payment of salaries?

Commissioning in the fall of 2011, the new payroll processing software, called Louvois, knows it's true, serious flaws. The problem was taken round the body by the Minister: a hotline was opened, and internal and external audits were launched. If it is a matter of personal training, problems should be resolved within three months. If the software is concerned, it will be more complicated. We do not have the right to deceive us vis-à-vis our men. This is a top priority.

What do you expect of the forthcoming White Paper on defense and national security?

The White Paper sets out the strategic priorities of the nation. It reflects a political will. It's not up to me to determine. I must take care to preserve the consistency of our defense system. This means that our resources must remain in line with our ambitions. It is the credibility of our country. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, France retains a strong voice in the world. She was accustomed to watching vast horizons, land or sea. Do we want to continue? And how do we do it? It is to the political authority to say. I expect the White Paper that especially addresses three insufficiently taken into account by the year 2008 records: Africa, which is experiencing rapid population expansion, overseas maritime areas.

What threats to France?

France has said no opponent in the traditional sense. But his interests are affected by numerous threats, it is better to treat at the source. In the Sahel, the instability worries us. The jihadists will prevent the development of the country and scare away people at the risk of upsetting the regional demographic balance. They also pose a terrorist risk, which can eventually direct threat to France. Today, the border notion apprehends more only in terms of physical geography. Some threats are expressed in areas hitherto less coveted, like the sea, space or cybernetics. Faced with a rapidly changing world, we need to rethink the terms of our responses.

Paris will he intervene in northern Mali, now in the hands of the Islamists?

President François Hollande was clear: France will support the implementation of the resolution passed by the UN Security Council, providing material and logistical support for an intervention led by the countries of Africa west. Go beyond this support is not on the agenda.

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