French Military Programming Law 2024-2030

In July 2023‭, ‬the French Parliament approved the new‭ (‬Military Programming‭) ‬law‭, ‬marking a significant increase in the Defence Ministry’s budget for 2024-2030‭, ‬reaching‭ ‬€413‭ ‬billion‭.  ‬The budget will see incremental additions‭, ‬starting with‭ ‬€3.1‭ ‬billion in 2024‭ ‬and an additional‭ ‬€3‭ ‬billion each year until 2027‭. ‬From 2028‭ ‬onwards‭, ‬the French Defence Ministry is set to receive an extra‭ ‬€4.3‭ ‬billion annually‭.‬

With a‭ ‬€13‭ ‬billion increase‭, ‬this funding aims to enhance the protection of French territory‭, ‬foster operational collaboration with allies‭, ‬and improve rapid intervention capabilities‭, ‬particularly within the ground forces‭.‬

The new military programming law is grounded in the logic of military transformation‭, ‬providing the French army with the necessary means to address the deterioration of the strategic context‭, ‬the return of war to Europe’s doorstep‭, ‬and the acceleration of‭ ‬technological disruptions‭.‬

This law outlines France’s defence policy for the coming years across five main axes‭:‬

  • Adapting French defence strategy to current and future threats‭.‬
  • Strengthening the foundations of French defence‭.‬
  • Adapting military tools to evolving threats‭.‬
  • Achieving technological leaps in the defence sector‭.‬
  • Cementing the ethical image of the French army‭.‬

This all aims to enable the French army to deploy its forces globally and develop forces capable of responding to aggression against France and its interests and confronting various threats‭, ‬including natural disasters‭, ‬violators of international law‭, ‬and‭ ‬those manipulating information‭. ‬This study aims to analyze the implications of the new military programming law on ground forces‭.‬

The Numbers and Status of French Ground Forces‭:‬‭ ‬The new military programming law will lead to a reduction of approximately 10,000‭ ‬ground forces for the following reasons‭:‬

  • ‬Soldiers will undergo training for new tasks‭, ‬including robotics‭, ‬unmanned aerial vehicle control‭, ‬electronic warfare‭, ‬and internet control within each battalion‭.‬
  • The law stipulates the development of a French type of remotely operated ammunition by 2030‭ ‬to keep up with advancements in missile systems‭, ‬which will lead to a decrease in infantry numbers‭.‬
  • Despite the historical importance of nuclear weapons in the French defence strategy‭, ‬previous governments did little to maintain and improve nuclear weapons and their carriers‭. ‬However‭, ‬the new law allocates around‭ ‬€54‭ ‬billion for this purpose‭, ‬emphasizing the importance of deterrence over traditional ground combat strength‭.‬
  • The gradual shift of battlefields from land to space‭, ‬the sea floor‭, ‬information warfare‭, ‬and cyberspace prompted the new law to prioritize control over these new conflict domains‭.‬

French Ground Forces Overseas‭:‬‭ ‬In light of the increasing prevalence of hybrid threats‭, ‬the negative impacts of climate change‭, ‬and challenges to international‭ ‬law‭, ‬the new military programming law recognizes the necessity for France to reaffirm its defensive capabilities and sovereignty over its overseas territories‭. ‬

This becomes especially crucial as France’s adversaries overtly showcase their military capabilities in proximity to these territories‭. ‬Therefore‭, ‬reinforcing French sovereign forces in these territories is a priority within the new law‭. ‬To empower French‭ ‬forces stationed abroad to carry out sovereignty-related tasks‭, ‬protect populations‭, ‬and solidify alliances‭, ‬it is imperative to‭ ‬increase their numbers‭, ‬continuously modernize their equipment and invest in military infrastructure‭. ‬Thus this law aims to reinforce the French ground forces overseas with an additional 619‭ ‬combat soldiers‭, ‬increase operational reserves‭, ‬implement infrastructure updates costing over‭ ‬€800‭ ‬million and recruit 800‭ ‬personnel to upgrade the military infrastructure for French overseas territories and provinces‭.‬

French Ground Forces Intelligence‭:‬‭ ‬Whether at the political‭, ‬military‭, ‬or tactical levels‭, ‬access to information is vital for the armed forces for planning‭, ‬executing operations‭, ‬and decision-making‭. ‬

Thus‭, ‬8000‭ ‬specialists from all branches of the French armed forces‭, ‬including ground forces‭, ‬play a crucial role in collecting‭,‬‭ ‬sorting‭, ‬analyzing‭, ‬and interpreting millions of data points disseminated globally every day‭.‬

Military intelligence‭, ‬including that of the ground forces‭, ‬will benefit from the increased budget under the new law‭. ‬This will‭ ‬enable various intelligence branches to recruit thousands of employees‭, ‬allocate additional resources for new surveillance satellites‭, ‬strengthen cybersecurity‭, ‬acquire new servers‭, ‬and utilize artificial intelligence to expedite data processing‭, ‬ensuring‭ ‬operational superiority over adversaries‭.‬

The new law ensures that the budget for military intelligence doubles by 2030‭, ‬positively impacting the intelligence capabilities of ground forces‭.‬

In terms of employment‭, ‬the Military Programming Law 2024-2030‭ ‬is set to create around 600‭ ‬job opportunities during this period‭ ‬while retaining current employees‭. ‬To meet these challenges‭, ‬a substantial budget of‭ ‬€5‭ ‬billion is allocated to the intelligence component in the military programming law‭, ‬including elements of ground forces intelligence‭.‬

The Traditional Equipment of French Ground Forces‭:‬‭ ‬This new law emphasizes the modernization of the French army‭, ‬particularly regarding nuclear deterrence and improving the conditions of military personnel

To that end‭, ‬approximately‭ ‬€10‭ ‬billion will be allocated along with updates to equipment and increased investments in cybersecurity‭, ‬space‭, ‬and maritime capabilities‭.‬

However‭, ‬traditional heavy equipment‭, ‬such as tanks and infantry fighting vehicles will be reduced‭.‬

For instance‭, ‬by 2030‭, ‬the French army will receive 2,300‭ ‬armoured vehicles of the Scorpion model‭, ‬which is 30%‭ ‬less than initially planned‭.‬

The Air Force will receive 137‭ ‬Rafale fighters instead of 185‭, ‬and the Navy will be equipped with 3‭ ‬frigates instead of the planned 5‭. ‬These adjustments reflect the focus on technological advancements and a strategic shift in defence priorities outlined in‭ ‬the Military Programming Law‭.‬

Implications for Reservists‭:‬‭ ‬Given the current context‭, ‬the importance of the professional army model established since the mid-1990s is acknowledged‭. ‬However‭, ‬in light of current threats‭, ‬the new military programming law recognises the need to strengthen the operational reserve forces of the French army as the glue that binds the nation and the army‭. ‬

This involves increasing the number of reserve forces to achieve an operational reserve ratio of one operational reservist for every two soldiers by 2035‭. ‬

Reservists will be trained to perform tasks similar to their active-duty counterparts‭, ‬enabling them to be significant contributors to defence and security issues‭.‬

Consequently‭, ‬the number of reservists will rise from approximately 40,000‭ ‬to about 80,000‭. ‬The naval‭, ‬air‭, ‬ground forces‭, ‬and intelligence units plan to recruit former soldiers and civilians‭, ‬with a particular focus on individuals with rare skills‭, ‬such as computer scientists‭, ‬linguists‭, ‬and technicians‭. ‬The number of reservists in overseas territories is expected to exceed double‭ ‬the current number‭, ‬reaching over 4,200‭ ‬by 2030‭.‬

Technological Evolution in Ground Forces‭:‬‭ ‬The new military programming law recognizes the increasing pace of technological advancements‭, ‬posing a threat to national independence‭. ‬Consequently‭, ‬France is driven to renew its operational capabilities and develop its digital verification tools independently‭, ‬reducing its dependence on allies‭.‬

The law seeks to achieve technological leaps in the defence sector‭, ‬positively impacting the BattleLab Terre project‭, ‬initiated‭ ‬in 2018‭. ‬This project aims to enhance collaboration between various stakeholders in technological innovation‭, ‬including ministries‭, ‬manufacturers‭, ‬startups‭, ‬research centres‭, ‬universities‭, ‬etc‭, ‬to anticipate and address future challenges‭.‬

The new military programming law allocates a budget of‭ ‬€10‭ ‬billion to support innovation‭, ‬focusing on replacing humans with robots for specific ground tasks‭.‬

This aims to relieve humans of repetitive‭, ‬hazardous tasks and increase efficiency‭, ‬which the new law recognises as a fundamental approach for achieving better synergy between human and automated systems in ground forces‭.‬

The new military programming law will enable the VULCAIN project to achieve its primary goal‭: ‬ensuring the French army has access to the chosen automated systems to maintain operational superiority on the battlefield‭. ‬The program’s motto is‭ :(‬We can automate everything‭, ‬but what do we really need‭?) ‬The law responds by emphasizing that France possesses highly comprehensive defence capabilities‭, ‬prompting the evaluation of whether robot contributions will raise doubts about some existing systems or complement‭ ‬them‭. ‬In other words‭, ‬are robots a revolution or just an evolution‭?‬

Services Provided to Ground Forces‭:‬‭ ‬In the face of the resurgence of warfare in Europe‭, ‬the new military programming law emphasizes the need for France to adopt a‭ ‬defence policy that goes beyond the armed forces‭, ‬involving civilian society in protecting the nation‭, ‬through the following key‭ ‬aspects‭:‬

  • Increasing operational reserves
  • Improving living conditions for soldiers and their families
  • Updating healthcare services for military personnel and their families
  • Contributing to strengthening the bond between the French nation and its army

To achieve these goals‭, ‬the new programming law allocates at least‭ ‬€750‭ ‬million for building new homes‭, ‬supporting parents‭, ‬providing better compensation for absences‭, ‬assisting soldier movements‭,‬‭ ‬and enhancing the daily lives of military families‭. ‬This aligns with one of the law’s primary objectives‭: ‬solidifying the ethical image of the French army‭.‬

Operational Excellence for the French Ground Forces‭:‬‭ ‬The new law aims to maintain a well-trained and combat-ready French ground force capable of participating in all conflicts‭, ‬including major confrontations‭.‬

The law outlines several strategies to achieve this goal‭:‬

Readiness for Future Challenges

Establishing well-prepared Ground forces to face future challenges through the following initiatives and mechanisms such as the‭ ‬ATHOS Project‭, ‬A comprehensive plan to improve the care of injured soldiers along with Investing in youth‭, ‬establishing a new technical school‭, ‬renewing reserve forces and strengthening the military community‭, ‬to enhance the ethical image of the French army‭. ‬Preparedness for High-Intensity Future Warfare‭ (‬Project Titan‭)‬

The Titan project is designed to create a high-capacity information network set to be operational after 2040‭, ‬altering the rules‭ ‬of engagement based on the concept of‭ (‬synchronization strategy‭), ‬a term used by Colonel Arnaud Goujon in the 31st May conference on land weapons organized by the French Strategic Research Institute‭.‬

The project seeks to expand the‭ (‬combat cloud‭) ‬for ground forces‭, ‬replacing the‭ ‬€10‭ ‬billion SCORPION program‭, ‬which aimed to update medium-sized armoured vehicles‭, ‬especially the multi-mission carrier‭ (‬Griffon‭),‬the combat and reconnaissance vehicle Jaguar‭, ‬the light multi-mission vehicle‭ (‬Serval‭), ‬and thus establish a command and control network based on the Atos SICS battle management system and Thales Contact software-defined radio technology‭. ‬The Titan program ensures future ground-air combat and informational collaboration‭, ‬facilitating real-time information sharing among all units‭ ‬to improve operational superiority‭.‬

Comprehensive Training

This entails the integration of the maximum number of individuals in military training‭, ‬preparation‭, ‬rehabilitation‭, ‬and skill refinement exercises‭, ‬such as the ORION 2023‭ ‬training‭.‬

Operational Efficiency for Ground Forces

This is done through the following steps‭:‬

  • ‬Streamlining the system and encouraging individuals to take on more responsibilities‭.‬
  • Integration with joint support systems‭.‬
  • Emphasis on digital technology‭.‬
  • Quick and proficient operational response‭.‬


Critics argue that the new military programming law may not lead France to follow the paths of Poland or even Germany‭, ‬which planned to increase the size of its army and purchase dozens of tanks and fighter jets‭. ‬Instead‭, ‬the French army plans to maintain‭ ‬the size of its army until 2030‭.‬

Some see the law as a paradox‭, ‬allowing for a historic budget on one side but fewer equipment and human resources on the other‭, ‬which means that the law is expected to result in a more modernized army‭, ‬but with limited manpower and equipment‭.‬

Others claim that the law makes the French army do almost everything but not enough to be fully independent‭. ‬Therefore‭, ‬its ability to wage a large-scale and fierce war without its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization‭ (‬NATO‭), ‬may be reduced‭.‬

Others argue that given the current geopolitical and economic context of France and Europe‭, ‬which is the most important factor‭, ‬France may not have been able to do better‭.‬

»‬‭ ‬By‭: ‬Professor Wael Saleh‭ ‬‭(‬Expert at Trends Research‭ & ‬Advisory Center‭)‬

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