France set to cut 20,000 posts in armed forces

France set to cut 20,000 posts in armed forces
French forces prepare for the military intervention in Mali. Photo: AFP
France’s drive to balance the books will see it delete 20,000 posts from its armed forces by 2019, French media reports claimed on Monday. The ground forces are set to bear the brunt of the reductions.

A long-awaited white paper will be presented to President François Hollande on Monday, which according to a report in French newspaper Les Echos, will recommend scrapping 5,000 posts in the country's armed forces each year between 2016 and 2019.

In total 20,000 posts will be deleted over the four years, with the army bearing the brunt of the reductions.

France's armed forces have been at the forefront of some high profile recent conflicts, most notably the NATO operation to oust former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and the recent military intervention in Mali against Islamist rebels.

According to Les Echos, France’s defense budget will be set at €179.2 for the period 2014 to 2019, which falls in line with Hollande's earlier pledge to freeze spending on the armed forces.

The decline in the strength of France’s armed services under Hollande is a continuation of a policy began by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who had called for the reduction of 54,000 jobs over the period 2008 to 2015.

According to Europe1 radio, the cuts will involve:

·         Reducing the army by around 7,000 soldiers, the equivalent of a combat brigade.

·         Downsizing the Air Force by around 50 military planes or 20 percent of its overall size.

·         Only minor cuts to the Navy’s budget because of its important Nuclear deterrent programme.

·         Minor cuts to special forces, who have been involved in the recent Mali conflict.

·         Forces currently stationed in Africa will also be spared any significant cut backs.

France’s Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is set to present more details of the planned cuts later on Monday.

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