At this time of strategic reviews, studies and preparation of France’s White Paper on defence and national security, its six year defence spending plan and the law on budgets, much attention is being paid to the risks and threats, to the organisations and capabilities needed to address them, and to the equipment and weapons of tomorrow. We have contributed to that thinking, and will continue to do so.
On the other hand, one subject is rarely evoked: military personnel. It seems to us timely to draw attention to the men, and women, of the armed forces, who do not seem to figure among the main preoccupations of the many committees that are preparing our future.
This feature begins by looking at protection: legal protection during operations, casualty evacuation in overseas interventions, not forgetting spiritual care.
Well protected, then, but is the morale of our men high, that moral force necessary for combat as Marshal Foch described it? Several straws blowing in the wind suggest there is room for doubt, and that is what emerges from the piece on what the future holds for officers.
We then turn to resettlement, absolutely necessary since over half of those serving are on short-or medium-term contracts and do not qualify for a pension on leaving the armed forces. As for the remainder, there is cause for concern that their pensions may be seen as too favourable compared with those of civil servants.
Last, but certainly not least, we look at the reserves, who play an increasingly important role in the operations and the life of the services.