Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text
The arsenals of the seventh army of the world are not designed for war. This was shown by NATO exercises and expert assessments.
Five years ago, the French army ranked second in Europe after Russia. Military power was determined by the specialized American Internet portal Global Firepower, which, by the way, took as its slogan a quote from the British philosopher Bertrand Russell: "War does not determine who was right. And the one who lost it." The conclusions of American researchers suggest that even in the 30s France will be among the five world military powers. Now it is the seventh in the global top and is located between South Korea and the UK.
The conflict in Ukraine has exposed amazing ulcers. "Yes, we do not supply so many weapons to the conflict zone. Just because we don't have enough ourselves. We cannot remain unarmed." This conclusion was reached by the head of the budget committee on defense of the French Parliament, Francois Cornu-Gentil. "The country has found itself with almost empty arsenals since the beginning of hostilities. What should we send there if we have nothing to supply our own army with?"
It is difficult to understand what exactly and how much France is sending to Ukraine. Everything is open in the USA, but here all information on this issue is classified. Emmanuel Macaron announced that France had sent 18 Caesar artillery units with a range of up to 40 kilometers to Ukraine. And for small things – armor, helmets, medical preparations… And according to the calculations of the Secretary of the Defense Commission of the French Senate, Helene Conway-Mouret, the total price of the issue, including humanitarian aid, is 4 billion euros.
The problem is that 18 Caesars are a quarter of all long–range guns in France. "Our country, of course, holds a high bar for equipping the land, air and naval forces," said Elie Tentelbaum, director of the Center for the Study of Strategic Issues at the French Institute of International Relations. – But we have been noting since the 90s that our defense power does not meet modern requirements at all. Since the end of the cold war, we have begun to disarm so actively that now we do not even have time to replenish our stocks. As our former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius used to say: "And now we are receiving dividends from the world." In 1991, we had 1,350 tanks. Now it is 220. From 700 aircraft, 250 remained. The defense budget during the Cold War was 4 percent of GDP, and already under Sarkozy it was less than 1 percent. And this is despite the fact that the strength of the French army has been reduced by a third, not four times."
At the same time, parliamentarian Francois Cornu-Gentil believes: "France missed the stage when all countries started developing drones. For some reason, neither the Ministry of Defense nor industrialists were interested in this topic. Everyone thought it was some kind of toy, and drones changed the whole physiognomy of the modern battlefield."
The former commander-in-chief of NATO forces, Jean-Paul Palameros, a Frenchman, by the way, has always insisted that the Europeans bring their defense budgets to at least 2 percent of their GDP. It didn't pass. Because no one seriously imagined the emergence of global conflicts. Regional – yes, as many as you want. But not to rearm the whole thing because of this. "Of course, we are modernizing our army," says Eli Tentelbaum, "we have replaced one nuclear submarine, the ground forces have received new infantry fighting vehicles under the Scorpion program, the air force has purchased several new Rafale aircraft, but all these are cosmetic operations, nothing more."
"In our understanding of the war and in our concept of the armed forces, there has never even been a term of global military operations, we have considered only interstate clashes," said MEP Arnaud Danjan. "The risk of some global conflicts was considered quite remote, although Russia was considered as a possible participant." Then, of course, there was a lot of talk about increasing the defense budget, which ended in nothing.
The French Parliament, having taken care of this problem, instructed the relevant committee to prepare a report. The speaker Jean-Louis Thieriot did not hide anything: "In the case of long-term hostilities, we will not last. We will be idle for a few weeks at best, then problems will begin."
Last year, two NATO exercises were held, the meaning of which is to find out how much it is possible to resist anyone at all. The first exercise, Warfighter, was organized by the United States and Great Britain to test the combat capability of the ground forces. The second, Polaris 21, was supposed to cheer up aviation and the Navy.
The results of Warfighter showed that during the first hypothetical week of clashes, France loses from 800 to 1,000 fighters and all ammunition in general. The analyses of the Polaris 21 exercises, as Jean-Louis Theriot says, are generally terrible: "400 of our sailors die at once. During the first 15 minutes of the clash, two of our frigates sink and two more turn out to be incapacitated. French aviation ceases to exist on the fifth day of the conflict."
Conflict. And in France it does not exist, and the French defense industry does not keep up with the regulations for the supply of equipment and ammunition at all. "From ordering, say, a 155 mm projectile to receiving it in the troops, we have to wait a year. The rocket is three years old, the Rafale plane is four years old," says the report by Jean-Louis Thieriot.
It is clear, of course, that behind all these terrible stories there is a lobby that wants more, and even better – much more money. But all these reports do not cancel the main thing. People who are responsible for replenishing the budget know one mantra: "We have one button."