|French Armed Forces|
|Forces armées françaises|
Logos of the French Armed Forces
|Service branches|| Army |
|Headquarters||Hexagone Balard, Paris|
|Chief of the Armed Forces||President Emmanuel Macron|
|Minister of the Armed Forces||Florence Parly|
|Chief of the Defence Staff||François Lecointre|
|Active personnel||203,750 (ranked 23rd)|
|Budget|| US$50.1 billion (2019)|
|Percent of GDP||1.9% (2019)|
|Domestic suppliers|| Airbus |
|Foreign suppliers|| FN Herstal |
Heckler & Koch
|History||Military history of France|
|Ranks|| Army ranks |
Air force ranks
The French Armed Forces (French : Forces armées françaises) encompass the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Guard and the Gendarmerie of the French Republic. The President of France heads the armed forces as chef des armées .
France has the fifth largest defence budget in the world and the first in the European Union (EU). It has the largest armed forces in size in the European Union.According to Credit Suisse, the French Armed Forces are ranked as the world's sixth-most powerful military.
The military history of France encompasses an immense panorama of conflicts and struggles extending for more than 2,000 years across areas including modern France, greater Europe, and French territorial possessions overseas. According to British historian Niall Ferguson, the French participated in 50 of the 125 major European wars that have been fought since 1495; more than any other european state. They are followed by the Austrians who fought in 47 of them and the English who were involved in 43. In addition, out of all recorded conflicts which occurred since the year 387 BC, France has fought in 168 of them, won 109, lost 49 and drawn 10; thus making France the most successful military power in European history.
The Gallo-Roman conflict predominated from 60 BC to 50 BC, with the Romans emerging victorious in the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar. After the decline of the Roman Empire, a Germanic tribe known as the Franks took control of Gaul by defeating competing tribes. The "land of Francia," from which France gets its name, had high points of expansion under kings Clovis I and Charlemagne. In the Middle Ages, rivalries with England and the Holy Roman Empire prompted major conflicts such as the Norman Conquest and the Hundred Years' War. With an increasingly centralized monarchy, the first standing army since Roman times, and the use of artillery, France expelled the English from its territory and came out of the Middle Ages as the most powerful nation in Europe, only to lose that status to Spain following defeat in the Italian Wars. The Wars of Religion crippled France in the late 16th century, but a major victory over Spain in the Thirty Years' War made France the most powerful nation on the continent once more. In parallel, France developed its first colonial empire in Asia, Africa, and in the Americas. Under Louis XIV, France achieved military supremacy over its rivals, but escalating conflicts against increasingly powerful enemy coalitions checked French ambitions and left the kingdom bankrupt at the opening of the 18th century.
Resurgent French armies secured victories in dynastic conflicts against the Spanish, Polish, and Austrian crowns. At the same time, France was fending off attacks on its colonies. As the 18th century advanced, global competition with Great Britain led to the Seven Years' War, where France lost its North American holdings. Consolation came in the form of dominance in Europe and the American Revolutionary War, where extensive French aid in the form of money and arms, and the direct participation of its army and navy led to America's independence. Internal political upheaval eventually led to 23 years of nearly continuous conflict in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. France reached the zenith of its power during this period, dominating the European continent in an unprecedented fashion under Napoleon Bonaparte, but by 1815 it had been restored to its pre-Revolutionary borders. The rest of the 19th century witnessed the growth of the Second French colonial empire as well as French interventions in Belgium, Spain, and Mexico. Other major wars were fought against Russia in the Crimea, Austria in Italy, and Prussia within France itself.
Following defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Franco-German rivalry erupted again in the First World War. France and its allies were victorious this time. Social, political, and economic upheaval in the wake of the conflict led to the Second World War, in which the Allies were defeated in the Battle of France and the French government surrendered and was replaced with an authoritarian regime. The Allies, including the government in exile's Free French Forces and later a liberated French nation, eventually emerged victorious over the Axis powers. As a result, France secured an occupation zone in Germany and a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The imperative of avoiding a third Franco-German conflict on the scale of those of two world wars paved the way for European integration starting in the 1950s. France became a nuclear power and since the 1990s its military action is most often seen in cooperation with NATO and its European partners.
Today, French military doctrine is based on the concepts of national independence, nuclear deterrence (see Force de frappe ), and military self-sufficiency. France is a charter member of NATO, and has worked actively with its allies to adapt NATO—internally and externally—to the post-Cold War environment. In December 1995, France announced that it would increase its participation in NATO's military wing, including the Military Committee (France withdrew from NATO's military bodies in 1966 whilst remaining full participants in the Organisation's political Councils). France remains a firm supporter of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and other cooperative efforts. Paris hosted the May 1997 NATO-Russia Summit which sought the signing of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security. Outside of NATO, France has actively and heavily participated in both coalition and unilateral peacekeeping efforts in Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans, frequently taking a lead role in these operations. France has undertaken a major restructuring to develop a professional military that will be smaller, more rapidly deployable, and better tailored for operations outside of mainland France. Key elements of the restructuring include: reducing personnel, bases and headquarters, and rationalisation of equipment and the armaments industry.
Since the end of the Cold War, France has placed a high priority on arms control and non-proliferation. French Nuclear testing in the Pacific, and the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior strained French relations with its Allies, South Pacific states (namely New Zealand), and world opinion. France agreed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1992 and supported its indefinite extension in 1995. After conducting a controversial final series of six nuclear tests on Mururoa in the South Pacific, the French signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996. Since then, France has implemented a moratorium on the production, export, and use of anti-personnel landmines and supports negotiations leading toward a universal ban. The French are key players in the adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe to the new strategic environment. France remains an active participant in: the major programs to restrict the transfer of technologies that could lead to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group (for chemical and biological weapons), and the Missile Technology Control Regime. France has also signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.
On 31 July 2007, President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered M. Jean-Claude Mallet, a member of the Council of State, to head up a thirty-five member commission charged with a wide-ranging review of French defence. The commission issued its White Paper in early 2008.Acting upon its recommendations, President Sarkozy began making radical changes in French defense policy and structures starting in the summer of 2008. In keeping with post-Cold War changes in European politics and power structures, the French military's traditional focus on territorial defence will be redirected to meet the challenges of a global threat environment. Under the reorganisation, the identification and destruction of terrorist networks both in metropolitan France and in francophone Africa will be the primary task of the French military. Redundant military bases will be closed and new weapons systems projects put on hold to finance the restructuring and global deployment of intervention forces. In a historic change, Sarkozy furthermore has declared that France "will now participate fully in NATO," four decades after former French president General Charles de Gaulle withdrew from the alliance's command structure and ordered American troops off French soil.
There are currently 36,000 French troops deployed in foreign territories—such operations are known as "OPEX" for Opérations Extérieures ("External Operations"). Among other countries, France provides troops for the United Nations force stationed in Haiti following the 2004 Haiti rebellion. France has sent troops, especially special forces, into Afghanistan to help the United States and NATO forces fight the remains of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. In Opération Licorne a force of a few thousand French soldiers is stationed in Ivory Coast on a UN peacekeeping mission. These troops were initially sent under the terms of a mutual protection pact between France and the Ivory Coast, but the mission has since evolved into the current UN peacekeeping operation. The French Armed Forces have also played a leading role in the ongoing UN peacekeeping mission along the Lebanon-Israel border as part of the cease-fire agreement that brought the 2006 Lebanon War to an end. Currently, France has 2,000 army personnel deployed along the border, including infantry, armour, artillery and air defence. There are also naval and air personnel deployed offshore.
The French Joint Force and Training Headquarters (État-Major Interarmées de Force et d'Entraînement) at Air Base 110 near Creil maintains the ability to command a medium or large-scale international operation, and runs exercises .In 2011, from 19 March, France participated in the enforcement of a no-fly zone over northern Libya, during the Libyan Civil war, in order to prevent forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out air attacks on Anti-Gaddafi forces. This operation was known as Opération Harmattan and was part of France's involvement in the conflict in the NATO-led coalition, enforcing UN Security Council Resolution 1973. On 11 January 2013 France begun Operation Serval to fight Islamists in Mali with African support but without NATO involvement.
In May 2014, high ranking defence chiefs of the French Armed Forces threatened to resign if the defence budget received further cuts on top of those already announced in the 2013 White Paper. They warned that further cuts would leave the armed forces unable to support operations abroad.
The head of the French armed forces is the President of the Republic, in his role as chef des armées . However, the Constitution puts civil and military government forces at the disposal of the gouvernement (the executive cabinet of ministers chaired by the Prime Minister, who are not necessarily of the same political side as the president). The Minister of the Armed Forces (as of 2017, the incumbent Florence Parly) oversees the military's funding, procurement and operations. Historically, France relied a great deal on conscription to provide manpower for its military, in addition to a minority of professional career soldiers. Following the Algerian War, the use of non-volunteer draftees in foreign operations was ended; if their unit was called up for duty in war zones, draftees were offered the choice between requesting a transfer to another unit or volunteering for the active mission. In 1996, President Jacques Chirac's government announced the end of conscription and in 2001, conscription formally was ended. Young people must still, however, register for possible conscription (should the situation call for it). As of 2017 the French Armed Forces have total manpower of 426,265, and has an active personnel of 368,962 (with the Gendarmerie National).
It breaks down as follows (2015):
The reserve element of the French Armed Forces consists of two structures; the Operational Reserve and the Citizens Reserve. As of 2015 the strength of the Operational Reserve is 27,785 personnel.
Apart from the three main service branches, the French Armed Forces also includes a fourth paramilitary branch called the National Gendarmerie. It had a reported strength of 103,000 active personnel and 25,000 reserve personnel in 2018.They are used in everyday law enforcement, and also form a coast guard formation under the command of the French Navy. There are however some elements of the Gendarmerie that participate in French external operations, providing specialised law enforcement and supporting roles.
Historically the National Guard functioned as the Army's reserve national defense and law enforcement militia. After 145 years since its disbandment, due to the risk of terrorist attacks in the country, the Guard was officially reactivated, this time as a service branch of the Armed Forces, on 12 October 2016.
Since 2019 young French citizens can fulfill the mandatory service Service national universel (SNU) in one of the military.
The French armed forces are divided into five service branches:
In addition, the National Gendarmerie form a Coast Guard force called the Gendarmerie Maritime which is commanded by the French Navy.
The National Gendarmerie is primarily a military and airborne capable police force which serves as a rural and general purpose police force.
Reactivated in 2016, the National Guard serves as the official primary military and police reserve service of the Armed Forces. It also doubles as a force multiplier for law enforcement personnel during contingencies and to reinforce military personnel whenever being deployed within France and abroad.
The Defense Forces of Georgia, or Georgian Defense Forces, known as the Georgian Armed Forces until December 2018, are the combined military forces of Georgia, tasked with the defense of the nation’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. They consist of the Land Force, Air Force, National Guard, and Special Operations Forces. The Defense Forces are under overall leadership of the Minister of Defense of Georgia and directly headed by the Chief of Defense Forces.
The Italian Armed Forces encompass the Italian Army, the Italian Navy and the Italian Air Force. A fourth branch of the armed forces, known as the Carabinieri, take on the role as the nation's military police and are also involved in missions and operations abroad as a combat force. Despite not being a branch of the armed forces, the Guardia di Finanza is part of the military and operates a large fleet of ships, aircraft and helicopters, enabling it to patrol Italy's waters and to eventually participate in warfare scenarios. These five forces have military status and are all organized along military lines, comprising a total of 341,250 men and women with the official status of active military personnel, of which 165,500 are in the Army, Navy and Air Force. The President of the Italian Republic heads the armed forces as the President of the High Council of Defence established by article 87 of the Constitution of Italy. According to article 78, the Parliament has the authority to declare a state of war and vest the necessary powers in the Government.
The Latvian National Armed Forces are the armed forces of the Republic of Latvia. Latvia's defense concept is based on a mobile professional rapid response force and reserve segment that can be called upon relatively fast for mobilization should the need arise. The National Armed Forces consists of Land Forces, Naval Forces, Air Force and National Guard. Its main tasks are to protect the territory of the State; participate in international military operations; and to prevent threats to national security.
The Swedish Armed Forces is the government agency that forms the military forces of Sweden, and which is tasked with defense of the country, as well as promoting Sweden's wider interests, supporting international peacekeeping efforts, and providing humanitarian aid. It consists of the Swedish Army, the Swedish Air Force and the Swedish Navy, as well as a military reserve force, the Home Guard. Since 1994, all Swedish military branches are organized within a single unified government agency, headed by the Supreme Commander, even though the individual services maintain their distinct identities. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden is traditionally considered Honorary General and Admiral à la suite.
The Turkish Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of Turkey. They consist of the Land Forces, the Naval Forces and the Air Forces. The current Chief of the General staff is General Yaşar Güler. The Chief of the General Staff is the Commander of the Armed Forces. In wartime, he acts as the Commander in Chief on behalf of the president, who represents the Supreme Military Command of the TAF on behalf of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Commanding the Armed Forces is the responsibility of the General Staff, as well as coordinating the military relations of the TAF with other NATO member states and friendly states.
The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, its overseas territories and the Crown dependencies. They also promote the UK's wider interests, support international peacekeeping efforts and provide humanitarian aid.
The Portuguese Armed Forces are the military of Portugal. They include the General Staff of the Armed Forces, the other unified bodies and the three service branches: Portuguese Navy, Portuguese Army and Portuguese Air Force.
Iceland's defences consist of the Icelandic Coast Guard, which patrols Icelandic waters and monitors its airspace, and other services such as the National Commissioner's National Security and Special Forces Units. Iceland is however the only NATO member which maintains no standing army.
The Belgian Defense Forces is the national military of Belgium. The King of the Belgians is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. The Belgian Armed Forces was established after Belgium became independent in October 1830. Since that time Belgian armed forces have fought in World War I, World War II, the Cold War, Kosovo, Somalia and Afghanistan. The Paracommando Brigade intervened several times in Central-Africa, for maintaining public order and evacuation of Belgian citizens. The Armed Forces comprise four branches: the Land Component, the Air Component, the Marine Component and the Medical Component.
The Canadian Armed Forces, or Canadian Forces, are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."
Military police (MP) are law enforcement agencies connected with, or part of, the military of a state.
A gendarmerie is a military force with law enforcement duties among the civilian population. The term gendarme is derived from the medieval French expression gens d'armes, which translates to "armed people". In France and some Francophone nations, the gendarmerie is a branch of the armed forces responsible for internal security in parts of the territory with additional duties as a military police for the armed forces. This concept was introduced to several other Western European countries during the Napoleonic conquests. In the mid-twentieth century, a number of former French mandates or colonial possessions such as Lebanon, Syria, and the Republic of the Congo adopted a gendarmerie after independence.
The Norwegian Armed Forces is the military organisation responsible for the defence of Norway. It consists of four branches, the Norwegian Army, the Royal Norwegian Navy, which includes the Coast Guard, the Royal Norwegian Air Force, and the Home Guard, as well as several joint departments.
The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) is the European Union's (EU) course of action in the fields of defence and crisis management, and a main component of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
The Spanish Armed Forces are in charge of guaranteeing the sovereignty and independence of Spain, defending its territorial integrity and the constitutional order, according to the functions entrusted to them by the Constitution of 1978. They are composed of: the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Royal Guard and the Military Emergency Unit, as well as the so-called Common Corps.
A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizen-soldiers of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms and their main role is to be available to fight when their military requires additional manpower. Reserve forces are generally considered part of a permanent standing body of armed forces. The existence of reserve forces allows a nation to reduce its peacetime military expenditures while maintaining a force prepared for war. It is analogous to the historical model of military recruitment before the era of standing armies.
The National Gendarmerie is one of two national police forces of France, along with the National Police. It is a branch of the French Armed Forces placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior—with additional duties to the Ministry of Defense. Its area of responsibility includes smaller towns, rural and suburban areas, while the Police Nationale, a civilian force, is in charge of cities and their centres. Because of its military status, the Gendarmerie also fulfills a range of military and defense missions. The Gendarmes have a cybercrime division. The force has a strength of more than 100,000 personnel, as of 2014.
The Bastille Day military parade, also known as the 14 July military parade, translation of the French name of Défilé militaire du 14 juillet, is a French military parade that has been held on the morning of 14 July each year in Paris since 1880, almost without exception. The parade passes down the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde where the President of the French Republic, his government and foreign ambassadors to France stand.
Provosts are military police whose duties are policing solely within the armed forces of a country, as opposed to gendarmerie duties in the civilian population. However, many countries use their gendarmerie for provost duties.