French Military News Thread


New Member
As we probably all know, there are countless jokes about the French Military:
The MBT of the French Army has 7 gears. 6 are for reverse and one gear is to go forward in case the enemy gets behind them
All that aside, is there anything that you guys appreciate about the French?

Leclarc? Submarines?

Or, if you run out of things to appreciate, we can always hear your take on French jokes...

Don't get me wrong. I believe the French are a strong and resilient people. Unfortunately, the jokes seem to detract from that.
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Obi Wan Russell

Jedi Master
VIP Professional
Re: The Military of France

I respect the fact that the French still have a sense of national pride and are prepared to stick up for their own industries, defence related or otherwise, but beyond that I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw them!

Jeff Head

Staff member
Super Moderator
Re: The Military of France

All that aside, is there anything that you guys appreciate about the French?
The do operate a nuclear carrier with a very capable air wing. Despite severe birthing pains, that carrier is capable, credible, and will be all the more impresive when joined by the next French carrier.

They also have an impressive military design and manufacturing industry across the board.

Despite the jokes, I believe people respect the French military and its capabilities when it is deployed.


VIP Professional
Registered Member
Re: The Military of France

Bashing french of their military performance in WWII is as tastless as bashing Poland or any other countries that were rolled over by Germans. At least french fought back unlike many others. The thing was that with outdated tactics and doctrines against the new and unheard Bliztkrieg, there really weren't anything to throw against it. Germans invaded hell lot of more land from the soviets than the size of france and only thing that stopped them was the unrealistic depth of the german plans to be able to conduct with mechanical force. But the general tactics used by the Germans were almoust unbeatable in the early days when germans had the change to determine where to fight and frankly if it would have been the british or americans or soviets in the place of french, they would have been beaten just the same.

So can we drop these childish country bashing jokes?

French military hardware is as good as anyone else making the same cathegory equipment. In fact it's quite remarkable how in certain areas France have managed to keep up the level of the two superpowers, USA and Russia/Soviet union. If you look simply the level of the technology and the wide slace of equipment made, france is definatly the number three in the whole world.


Banned Idiot
Re: The Military of France

The French should be given their due, even though they lost battles (like everyone else) in the past!
(update, August 24, 2006)

Which overall strategy for its defense policy?

The 2006 French Defense Budget is $41.5 billion, not including pensions (an increase of 3.4% from 2005).

A total of 455,000 people are working for the French Defense Department. This number includes 356,000 military professionals and 96,000 civilian personnel, as an all-volunteer force. France has currently the largest all-volunteer military force on the European continent.

Army represents 38% (135,000 active military),

Navy,12% (43,000 active military),

Air Force , 18% (63,000 active military),

Gendarmerie (national police under military statute- 99,000 active military), 28%,

Other services (Armament Directorate, Health services, Fuel services - 16,000), 4%.

36,000 French troops are deployed overseas, including 13,000 participating in crisis management operations.
A significant number of French troops are deployed overseas. Basically, they serve two main purposes: pre-positioning requirements and crisis management operations. For this later course of action, French troops are participating in world stabilization mandated by UN resolutions as part of NATO, EU or coalitions. Those actions are currently taking place in Afghanistan, Africa, the Balkans and Lebanon. (See detailed information below.)
With numerous troops overseas, France is a strong US partner in advancing securitythroughout the world. As an example, the 7,600 French troops in theCaribbean area and Guyana play a major role in countering drug trafficking alongside the US Joint Inter Agency Task Force South. Another example is found with the 10,000 French forces, which are present in the Pacific region and the Southern Indian Ocean where they are controlling sea lanes, notably through the French contribution to Task Force 150.
With more than 1,900 troops, France is also a major US partner in Afghanistan where in particular French fighter aircraft are presently providing close air support to both the NATO International Security Assistance Force and the American-led Operation Enduring Freedom.

France is a major NATO player .

- First, NATO runs an ongoing transformation, and France fully participates in that process. France is a major proponent of enhancing NATO’s efficiency in the current strategic environment. To that effect, a flag officer and several other senior officers are posted at SACT (Norfolk, VA).

- Secondly, France has been from the beginning one of the major contributors to the NATO Response Force. A French general commanded the air component of NRF 5 which deployed recently to Pakistan. This month, a French general commanded the land component of NRF7 with the participation of the French-German Brigade, which conducted a major exercise for the NRF operational certification in Cape Verde.

- Third, with about 3,000 troops, France is the third largest member state contributor to NATO operations behind Germany and Italy.

- Finally, two French generals commanded in 2005 two major NATO forces, ISAF in Afghanistan and KFOR in Kosovo.

1 - About 36,000 French troops are deployed overseas, including 13,000 participating in peace-keeping operations:

Lebanon: Since mid-July 2006, France has maintained a naval task force off the coast of Lebanon (4 major ships), as well as 2 tactical transport aircraft and some 15 helicopters operating from Cyprus, to conduct non-combatant evacuation operations. To date, approximately 14,000 people, including 3,000 non-French citizens, have been evacuated by this force of roughly 1,700 French soldiers. Since the beginning of August, this force has also conducted several logistical missions in support of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), as well as helping diplomats and political authorities travel from Cyprus to Beirut. This force, responding to a French chain of command, will stay in the area as long as deemed necessary.
As for UNIFIL, which is presently headed by a French general, France has, to date, contributed 250 troops, and another 150 will be in Lebanon by the beginning of next week. On August 24, French President Chirac agreed to send 1,600 more French troops – for a total of 2,000 -- to bolster the UN contingent in Lebanon.

Afghanistan: with 1,900 French troops, France is one of the major partners of the United States in Afghanistan. French contributions include troops deployed to the International Security Assistance Force (13% of ISAF), training of the Afghan National Army, Operation Enduring Freedom on the ground (Special Forces), at sea (3 frigates and 1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft), and in the air (6 fighter aircraft, 1 tanker and 2 transport aircraft). Periodically, fighter aircraft are also deployed in the region, with an air tanker, to offer close air support to ISAF and OEF ground troops. Mirage 200D strike aircraft, and Mirage F1CR reconnaissance and bomber aircraft, are presently based in Tajikistan until autumn 2006, in order to support both the NATO Troops, who are gradually expanding the area of operations into southern Afghanistan, as well as US-led coalition forces, including French special forces, who have been hunting the Taliban and Al Qaida remnants since 2001.
Indian Ocean: CVN Charles de Gaulle carrier battle group had been again deployed in international waters off Pakistan, throughout the month of May 2006, in support of ISAF and OEF in neighboring Afghanistan. Referred to as Task Force 473, it includes six ships, including one British frigate, 24 Rafales, Super Etendards and Hawkeye aircraft, and some 3,000 Navy personnel.
As the second contributor to Operation Enduring Freedom, the French Navy is also deploying two frigates as part of Task Force 150, an international maritime force responsible for fighting terrorism in the northern Indian Ocean. It is made up of ten ships from eight countries, among them the United States, Great Britain, Pakistan, Germany and France. Its mission is to monitor the air and sea spaces within its zone of responsibility (Red Sea, Sea of Oman, Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf) and to prevent terrorists’ exfiltration from Afghanistan to the Arabian Peninsula or the Horn of Africa. Its purpose is also to disrupt armament and illegal drug trafficking, as well as piracy. TF150 has also been entrusted with the protection of the oil production facilities since September 2004. TF 150 has been regularly commanded by French admirals.
France also contributes to TF57 with a maritime patrol aircraft and deploys one frigate within TF 318 under British command.

Ivory Coast: France has had for years a permanent military presence in Ivory Coast, under the terms of a defense agreement with that country. In the fall of 2002, under the terms of a United Nations resolution, France deployed around 4,000 troops to protect foreign civilians and prevent a civil war. After the deployment of a UN peace keeping force (ONUCI) and a new resolution of the UNSC, their current mission consists of protecting non-combatant foreigners and supporting UN forces in charge of monitoring the ceasefire and assisting the parties in undertaking DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration);
Kosovo : with 2,100 personnel, France is the third largest contributor to this NATO operation, after Germany and Italy;
Bosnia-Herzegovina : 400 French troops are deployed under the EU flag of mission Althea ;
Africa :1,300 troops in Chad and 200 in the Central AfricanRepublic contribute by their presence, at the invitation of both governments, to the stability of these countries and to the training of their armed forces for peace-keeping operations;
Darfur, Sudan: to address the humanitarian crisis, France mobilized military transport capabilities in Chad (airplanes, helicopters) for humanitarian relief operations. French aircraft ferried 700 tons of humanitarian aid at a cost of about $2.2 million. In addition, 200 French troops in Chad contributed to the stabilization of the Chad/Sudan border through patrols in Chad and along the border between the two countries. Furthermore, French F-1 Mirages, stationed with French troops in Chad, carry out frequent reconnaissance missions on the Chadian side of the Chad-Sudan border. Two French Army officers are part of the Abeche monitoring team, and two more French army officers are working with the African Union (AU) planning unit in Addis Ababa.
In July 2006, France sent 700 troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of an E.U. military mission to help maintain peace during elections. These troops will spend 4 months in that country to support the 17,000 U.N. soldiers currently stationed there as peace-keepers. France heads the operations on site in Kinshasa, while the overall mission is under German command based in Postdam.
Other Multinational Peacekeeping Operations: 700 French military and police observers, staff or support personnel are deployed in Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Kosovo, Haiti, Western Sahara, the Sinai, Israel, Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Liberia, the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Burundi, Bosnia Herzegovina, and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia.
French military assistance for Hurricane Katrina relief in September 2005: As part of the French assistance, France’s Armed Forces sent troops and equipment for the relief of injured persons in connection with Hurricane Katrina. On September 6, 2005, two military aircraft Casa 235 (based in Martinique -French West Indies) landed in Little Rock, Arkansas, carrying a French Disaster Assistance Assessment Team, tents, tarps and MRE (meals ready to eat). On September 11, 2005, a C-135 from Istres AFB ferried to Pensacola a 17 EOD team (explosive ordnance divers) in order to contribute to the rehabilitation of port facilities, dock clearance and obstacle removals. Their mission lasted until September 26, 2005.
Earthquake in Pakistan October 8, 2005: the French Armed Forces participated in the rescue of the populations in Pakistan, with the deployment of a first aid medical center and surgical facilities, as well as the transport of UN humanitarian freight from Turkey. Less than 24 hours after the earthquake struck India and Pakistan in the Kashmir area, a C135 FR of the Strategic Air Forces ferried the French first aid to Islamabad airport: 25 persons from the state-financed civilian rescue organization, two teams of dog handlers and 14 cubic meters of equipment. On October 10, a surgical unit was deployed with 41 civilian emergency medicine personnel and 18 military doctors. On their return to France on November 11, most of their equipment was given away to Pakistani medical services.
France activated the air component of NRF5 (NATO Response Force 5), in compliance with the decision of the North Atlantic Council of October 11, 2005. Over 60 French troops were involved in the command and deployment of the air component in Taverny (France), Ramstein (Germany), Incirlick (Turkey), Lisbon (Portugal) and Islamabad (Pakistan). Two C 130 tactical aircraft have participated since October 21 in daily airlifts between Incirlik (Turkey) and Islamabad (Pakistan) to convey humanitarian freight gathered by the UN in Turkey. On November 3, the NRF air component deployed a GHF (Ground handling facilities) in Lahore (400km from Islamabad): this French Air Force and Army team was tasked with facilitating the ground transit of the aid convoyed by the NRF.
On October 19, 2005, in Bahrain, FS VAR, the flagship of the Commander, Task Force 150, transferred several tons of food supplies to the USS Cleveland (amphibious transport dock ship) for transport to Pakistan.

2 – Frequently, France has commanding officers in NATO operations.

France fully participates in the NATO transformationprocess by being one of the major contributors to the NATO Response Force. Furthermore, France contributes to all the Atlantic Alliance’s operations with a significant number of troops. Some 36,000 allied military personnel are presently deployed in the various NATO operations throughout the world.
With about 3,000 troops, France is the third largest Member State contributor to NATO operations behind Germany (5,400) and Italy. France recently commanded two NATO operations :
In February 2005, French Army Lieutenant General Py relinquished command of ISAF after having served a 6-month tour. Concurrently, the French-German brigade was in charge of the multinational brigade in Kabul.
In September 2005, French Army Major General de Kermabon, KFOR Commander, was relieved by an Italian General after one year of responsibilities.

3 - France is actively involved in Afghanistan.

In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, France offered its military resources and capabilities to support the American-led military campaign, Operation Enduring Freedom, in Afghanistan. Immediately, the exchanges of information between our naval commanders increased, particularly in the Indian Ocean, thus intensifying the fight against all types of trafficking.
Since October 21, 2001, French reconnaissance aircraft and air tankers have contributed to the air campaign over Afghanistan. They were reinforced from the winter of 2001 to the summer of 2002 by French naval aviation forces and French Air Force transport planes and fighters. Indeed, France was the only country, along with the United States, to have flown bombing missions over Afghanistan in direct support of American ground troops, in particular during Operation Anaconda.
About 1,900 French troops are currently involved in the stabilization of Afghanistan, including the French Navy’s contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom:
1,200 French troops are deployed in that country as part of the International Security Assistance Force. France is also playing a significant role in training the Afghan national army, alongside the U.S. and the United Kingdom, having initially trained 3 Afghan battalions of 500 men each and being presently involved in the training of all Afghan officers. Additionally, 200 special troops are involved alongside American troops in the fight against the remnants of the Taliban regime in southern Afghanistan.
The French Navy continues to patrol the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman. It has been monitoring commercial sea lanes, detecting and boarding suspicious vessels, as well as escorting coalition boats through the area since December 2001. France is the second largest contributor to the maritime task force in charge of this mission.

4 - France is a major U.S. partner in advancing security throughout the world.

In the broader context of international security, France is working closely with the U.S. military to control proliferation and drug trafficking. The French Armed Forces in the Caribbean are closely coordinating with the U.S. Joint Inter Agency Task Force South to counter all kinds of illegal trafficking. The 7,500 French troops in the French Caribbean and Guyana play a major role in this mission. They also comprised the bulk of the French contribution to the multinational interim force in Haiti (870 servicemen, 24% of MIFH), which was recently terminated.
Immediately following an American initiative, France became a full partner in the Proliferation Security Initiative. France offered air control training exercises, as well as contributions to, and organization of, naval exercises. In 2005, the French Navy also led a PSI exercise, code-named Basilic, in Toulon (France).
10,000 French forces are present in the Pacific region and the Southern Indian Ocean, where they are controlling sea lanes and protecting important areas for the preservation of natural wealth. They are also able to assist countries of the region ravaged by conflicts or natural disasters, such as during the East Timor crisis or the typhoons in Madagascar.
For years, France has been involved in operations in Africa, hence contributing to international security and stability.5,000 French troops are stationed in Djibouti, Gabon and Senegal under bilateral agreements. Through their presence and their training programs, they contribute to peace and security on the continent. In 2003, at the request of the UN Secretary General, France was the lead nation, under the European Union flag, in a peace-making operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today, in Ivory Coast, under UN resolution 1464, France continues to deploy 4,000 military, alongside a UN force (including 200 French Blue Helmets), at the request of the parties, to help build trust between them and implement a long-term political settlement. At the start of the conflict, French forces evacuated civilians of various nationalities, among them a large number of American citizens.700 French troops are deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of an EU operation commanded by Germany under a UN mandate in order to foster security during the elections process.
Finally, the French Armed Forces are actively engaged in France’s homeland security missions. A substantial number of gendarmes participate in that effort, while still fulfilling their policing role. Moreover, 1,000 personnel from the French Army, Navy, and Air Force are involved in securing major public facilities, maritime approaches, as well as the national airspace. ..
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New Member
Re: The Military of France

Totally agree,I think people should lay off the French,in fact if you actually do research you will find their military record is as good as any of the other major military powers. In terms of technology its right up there with all the others and ahead of a lot,a good example is the FELIN system (French landwarrior), which is regarded as the most mature of the future soldier systems and is already being deployed to the French infantry on a basis of 1:1(in various configs).
I think a lot of the French bashing comes about because they dont blindly follow the US about and put their own interests first, dont see whats wrong with that and wish the UK would do it as well,that way we might win back some of the friends weve lost in recent years.:)


Junior Member
Re: The Military of France

France's decision to withdraw from NATO was one definitely worthy of analysis. It goes without saying that in an ideal alliance, member states would not resent, question, or even notice control exercised over them by other members because they believe it appropriate in view of the collective interests of the alliance. When coordination turns into a relationship in which one or more members suspect that the alliance is simply being used by another member to enhance its own position at their expense (ex: Warsaw Pact), alliances are more likely to unravel. Of course, it doesn't always have to be that dramatic; alliance cohesiveness can be shaken under other less significant circumstances. Resentment among members can arise when an alliance is dominated by one particularly powerful state.

Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of NATO in 1961 because he felt that it had become an instrument of American domination of Western Europe. Whether or not you believe so is another story, but when analyzing these issues it makes sens to start from the point of view of the affected party, and their given knowledge at the time. De Gaulle wanted France to be free of US control. Obviously, the US provided protection from the Soviet Union, and all the member states had this common interest. However, as far as de Gaulle was concerned the probability of such an attack from the Soviet Union was highly unlikely.

In his calculations, the political costs to France for staying in NATO outweighed the benefits it got. What's more, he anticipated with some confidence that regardless of the NATO withdrawal, the alliance would continue to defend Western Europe from Soviet attack, and thus France would be able to gain security from NATO without bearing full political and economic costs of membership.

By doing so, France was able to pursue a more independent foreign policy line. American foreign policy decisions under Eisenhower had twice left France facing military defeat unassisted by the US. These two examples were the Suez War against Egypt in 1956, and the French defeat in Dienbienphu Vietnam, 1954. In this instance, the Eisenhower administration had originally planned to back forces but later reneged on the commitment.

France, which suffered 35000 killed and 48000 wounded in Indochina quite reasonably inferred that the US was not a reliable ally, at least outside of Europe. (So no bringing up the World Wars into this) After de Gaulle reflected on the unhappy military history with the US since the end of WWII, he concluded that the US was committed to using NATO for its own advantage. Thus he decided that France would be better off building its own nuclear force, strengthening the indigenous defense industry, and following its own defense policy.

When examining France's military equipment and foreign policy it certainly pays to examine the historical and structural background, you can learn quite a bit from it.


New Member
Re: The Military of France

Certainly sheds a bit of light on some of Frances procurement choices recently, in particular their decision to stay out of the Eurofighter project in favour of the Rafale,when France is one of the main driving forces behind
the push for a common defence fo Europe.


Re: The Military of France

Well, just to clarify (and not sure if you're aware of it lcortez). France didn't actually stay out of the EF project but left it in a very early stage, I think in 1985(?). Back then the participating nations couldn't reach an agreement over the specs. France wanted a rather light fighter capable of carrier operations (for obvious reasons), while the UK/Germany favoured a bit heavier jet. Another point was the workshare. Because of it's longstanding history of indigenous defence industry, France wanted Dassault to get the main workload to do, wich the other partners wouldn't agree with. So finally France left. That's one reason why the Rafale and EF are so similar.
And it was not a bad move from nows perspective. The Rafale is capable, and it's in service for seven years now I think, while EF just gets operational. With several countries involved there are nearly alays delays due to political arguments. Finally, EF is probably a slightly better aircraft.
These experiances of France with NATO that Zergling described, and the following pull out, may be seen as an importand factor for the french decission to have a self reliable defence industry. Wich in turn leads to some reluctance to collaborate in international projects.
Up until now they were rather successfull with it.


New Member
Re: The Military of France

Wasnt aware of the earlier French participation in the Eurofighter project,thanks for the info.However I was in no way critizing the French involvement in European defence, in fact I often find myself defending the French when I hear complaints that they 'dont do anything'!
In fact I am quite a big fan of the French and am well aware of their contibutions towards European defence (maybe not on a technical level),and though their proposals for a homogenous EU military ,and their desire for EU to be more independant of US (but not against) very desirable.
Would totally agree French foreign policy very succesfull.:)