France is set to overhaul its military, creating a smaller, more mobile and better equipped army.
More than 50,000 defence jobs will be lost but savings will free up cash for cutting-edge replacements for France’s rapidly-ageing equipment. And, with terrorism seen as a major threat, more emphasis will be put on security within France’s borders.
Unveiling the review, President Nicolas Sarkozy also confirmed that France will make a full return to NATO’s military command structure, which it left in 1966. But he stressed the move must be preceded by a bolstering of Europe’s defence capacity.
A summit being prepared with Germany to mark NATO’s 60th anniversary next year would, he said, be a “strong symbol of European assertion and of the redevelopment of the trans-Atlantic alliance.”
French troops already play a key role within NATO. Sarkozy has made it clear that France will retain control of its independent nuclear arsenal. In all, the country has 12,000 troops on foreign missions, including those deployed as part of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Lebanon.