The Defense Ministry's white paper, released 30 April 2013, sets out French defence policy and military spending between 2014 and 2019. Military spending would be frozen at 31.4 billion euros over the next two to three years, and total military spending from 2014 and 2019 would be 179.2 billion euros, maintaining France's position as the country with the second-largest defence budget in the European Union after the United Kingdom. By 2015, military spending would represent 1.5% of France's GDP, down from 1.56% today, and nearly 2% a decade ago.
A total of 24,000 posts will be cut between 2016 and 2019, on top of 10,000 posts already set to go over the next to years as part of a process to cut 54,000 military jobs by 2015 started by the previous president, Nicholas Sarkozy, in 2008. The number of posts lost in individual army departments was not initially decided. However, one of the army's eight brigades was set to go, meaning 7,000 soldiers would lose their jobs. It also called for a reduction in the number of soldiers able to be rapidly deployed abroad, from the current 30,000 to 15,000-20,000.
In the years since the end of World War II, appeals to national grandeur have had greater resonance with the public in France than with the publics in either the Federal Republic of Germany or the United Kingdom. The French strategic style can be characterized by a preoccupation with considerations of Great Power status. Possessing an independent nuclear deterrent capability since the early 1960s, France is perhaps second only to the United Kingdom (UK) as West Europe's most powerful military force. France is also one of only three European countries, including the UK and Greece, that spend more that 2 percent of gross domestic product on the military.
As of 2006, France's army had 14 brigades, including two armored, two mechanized infantry, and two light armored, and one each of artillery, mountain infantry, airborne, air mobile, engineering, signal, international/electronic warfare, and French/German brigades. The army also includes regiments of the Foreign Legion, Marines, and Special Operations Forces. The land army's task is to control physical and human assets in complex environments on a durable and permanent basis, primarily through ground-based action. Its missions include a projection requirement, meaning it must be capable of deploying a force of 50,000 troops at a distance to take part in a major engagement as part of the Atlantic Alliance.
The air force participates in the full range of defence tasks, at every stage and in all places. As part of its defence tasks, the air force is responsible for the airborne component of France's nuclear force, the protection and security of the national airspace, the projection of armed forces and the projection of power for immediate intervention far beyond France's national borders. The air force has two permanent operational commands: the Strategic Air Force Command (CFAS) and the Air Defence and Operations Command (CDAOA).
The French Navy, as part of the joint armed forces, has four main strategic functions, which form the core of the armed forces' action: deterrence, prevention, projection and protection. The Navy's role in deterrence has been confirmed with the continuation of the Strategic Submarine Force (FOST), which is responsible for a critical component of national defence, missile-launching nuclear submarines. Deterrence is also based on the deployment of airborne nuclear weapons.
In addition to the regular armed forces, France maintains its paramilitary Gendarmerie Nationale, one of the police system's two branches. The gendarmerie is an integrated part of the national military organization and supported by the defense budget. The gendarmerie exercises police authority in rural and small urban areas, while the non-military branch of the police, the National Police, has jurisdiction over urban areas with more than 10,000 inhabitants. The Gendarmerie ensures public safety, order and law enforcement. It also carries out judicial and administrative police tasks. At the European level, the Gendarmerie plays an active part in police cooperation, including participation in Europol and a contribution to the operational management of the Schengen information system. At the international level, the Gendarmerie advises governments on implementing new structures and helps to train officers in areas where its know-how is sought after, including law and order, technical and scientific police work and Gendarmerie nationale intervention unit (GIGN).
France has traditionally had a large military presence abroad. As of 2007, about 34,000 troops were assigned outside of metropolitan France. Somewhat more than half of these troops were deployed to meet prepositioning requirements, maintaining garrisons and naval bases around the world, notably in sub-Saharan Africa. France maintains permanent military bases in Chad, C魌e d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Gabon, and Senegal. The remaining 13,000 to 16,000 troops deployed overseas take part - often in leading roles - in peacekeeping/coalition operations under international or defense agreements. As one of five permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, France is a frequent volunteer for peacekeeping operations. French troops participate as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or of coalitions in stabilization efforts mandated by UN resolutions, or, on occasion, operate under the Eurocorps flag. Such actions took place in Africa, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, with some addressing humanitarian crises, such as in Darfur. To address crises, France deployed military forces to C魌e d'Ivoire in 2002, to the Central African Republic in 2003, and, with European Union (EU) partners, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2003. In 2004 it deployed military forces to monitor the Chad-Sudan border The French have been among the strongest supporters of NATO and EU policy in the Balkans. France was the largest contributor of troops in Kosovo, with 2,380 troops, or almost 14 percent of Kosovo Forces (KFOR). France has been the second largest partner of the United States in Afghanistan after Germany. French contributions included its Charles de Gaulle carrier battle group and 1,800 troops.
Despite foreign policy disagreements over Iraq, France and the United States remain strong partners in advancing security throughout the world. For example, 10,000 French forces in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific monitor sea-lanes. In another example, 7,000 French troops in the Caribbean area and French Guiana work closely with the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South to counter drug trafficking. France is also a full partner in the U.S.-initiated Proliferation Security Initiative and offers numerous training exercises.
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