Saturday, June 29, 2019

Master of None

The French ambition to be a Jacques of all trades in military matters founders on its increasing military poverty:

Such relatively low number of troops and materiel constitutes an obvious shortcoming for a state with global ambitions, territory, and interests to protect in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia-Oceania.[17] Low numbers, combined with lasting budgetary cuts, resulted in the French Armed Forces becoming a force designed to win short wars and earn tactical success.[18] France does not have the necessary personnel to be a decisive actor in a major conventional conflict, a direct contradiction to the sacrosanct French principle of strategic autonomy. In a coalition, France would likely have only limited effect and strategic influence.[19] France is over-reliant on nuclear deterrence to ensure its security and protect its interests to face conventional threats.

France has some good troops. But like Russia with its vast continental empire that stretches its relatively small effective forces, France's global interests mean that France can either nuke you or inflict a small amount of conventional pain for a short time.

And if the enemy is too weak to nuke and too strong to defeat quickly, that's a problem for France if it wishes to be seen as a global player of consequence.

The French advantage over Russia is that they haven't angered America with pointless hostility and threats (rudeness doesn't count, and honestly under Trump we  are now better at that, too) and they aren't in possession of Chinese territory the way Russia has done (in the 19th century).

What does France want, what are they willing to pay to build an army big enough to achieve that, and what are they willing to accept?