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Military programming for the years 2019 to 2025

The Army in society
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The commission passed this bill because of the inflection that it finally comes (recovery of resources after years of attrition) and on the basis of its intentions, which are good (means at "human level", restoration of a worn-out potential, integration of innovation). However, it is lucid about the fragilities, gaps and challenges of this military programming, the commission considers that the challenge will be its proper implementation. The The role of Parliament, and of the Senate in particular, will be essential in overseeing it.

The committee amended the text to secure the resources of the armed forces, strengthen an insufficient "real estate" component, make the equipment acquisition process more agile to better integrate innovation, better protect the rights of pensioners and war victims, and strengthen parliamentary powers of control over the execution of programming.

The conclusion: a well-directed but fragile programming based on bets.

Given the intensity of the threats highlighted by the strategic review (failed states, terrorism, the return of threats of force, instability in the Middle East) it was obvious that the armed forces' resources had to be increased. The intentions of the LPM are good: it marks the end of attrition, of regiments closing down, of tens of thousands of jobs lost (50,000 in 10 years), the end of decades of under-investment and operational over-commitment. It carries a vision of strategic autonomy, around a complete army model, maintaining the ability to go in first, which your commission shares.

The commission subscribes to the stated priorities: improving the condition of soldiers and their families; preparing for the future, with equipment renewal and the modernisation of the two components of nuclear deterrence.

In particular, 50% of the army's new median armoured vehicles will be delivered by 2025, and the French Navy will benefit from new nuclear attack submarines BARRACUDA, FREMM and FTI (4, 8 and 2 delivered by 2025 respectively). The French Air Force will benefit from new tanker aircraft, drones and new (28 Rafale) or refurbished (55 M2000 D) fighter aircraft. The number of tanker and strategic transport aircraft will be increased from 12 to 15 by 2025, and delivery of the first 12 will be completed by 2023. The target number of French Navy patrol vessels is increased from 17 to 19, with 11 delivered by 2025. The replacement of "single-hull" replenishment ships at sea will be accelerated by two years and 32 CAESAR guns will be delivered before the end of the MPL.

However, the commission believes that this program suffers from real weaknesses.

First of all, it is above all politically motivated, as its trajectory will have to be confirmed each year in the draft budget bill; an update is already in the pipeline.An update is already planned for 2021, with the risk of a downward revision of the second part of the programme (by far the most ambitious) if the economic situation has not improved. Above all, the bulk of the effort will come after the 2022 elections (where annual increases in appropriations will be at the limit of sustainability with an additional effort of €3 billion each year from 2023 onwards). The commission has serious doubts about the sustainability of this sharp increase at the end of the period. On the contrary, in its report "2% of GDP for defence" in May 2017, it recommended spreading the effort continuously over the duration of the programme.

Second fragility, the commitments of the LPM are vague: the commission denounces the absence of a detailed calendar by year of the equipment programme, with only distant objectives (2025 and 2030) being specified; the commission regrets the absence of a financial trajectory for the infrastructures or annual indicators for the increase in training rates or equipment availability. The commission's analysis is that this incomplete information is the result of the Government's desire to conceal the persistence, until at least 2022, of a worrying situation. The MPL covers only part of the needs of the armed forces. The "manpower" component is weakened by the inadequacy of infrastructure credits (1.5 billion euros are lacking and by 2025 60% of the infrastructure of the de1.5 billion and in 2025 60% of defence infrastructure will be "degraded"), the weakness and slow pace of recruitment (450 only in the first years where the Commission estimated the needs at 2 500 per year) and the lack of consolidation of eroded support services, such as the Army Health Service (SSA), which determines the ability to enter the armed forces.e first of the forces, whose projected personnel are performing 200% of their operational contracts, or the commissariat, which is essential to the quality of life in the regiment.

With regard to equipment, the LPM will leave capability shortfalls for several years, some of which will not even be eliminated by the end of the programme. The announced "acceleration" cannot be measured precisely by the end of the programme. 2022 because the bill does not specify the details on a year-by-year basis, which leads us to believe that it will be very modest. In 2025, 58% of the old "VABs" will still be in service, 80 Gazelle helicopters will be extended to reach an average of 40 years of service. In 2025, the navy's UAV will be just about ordered. Only 50% of the Leclerc tanks will have been renovated, and the fleet will be reduced by 17%. The "marked effort on small equipment" will consist of an increase of 0.3% in 2019, before a decrease of 1.2% in 2020, with the increase not materializing until 2021. The delivery trajectory for tactical transport aircraft is not very credible: delivery of 1.8 aircraft per year on average and 6 aircraft per year from 2026 onwards to reach "Ambition 2030". In 2025, the Gabriel C160 electronic warfare aircraft will not have been replaced and will have to be extended by 2 or 3 years.

Maintaining the operational contracts, which should have been increased, given the current state of threats and over-commitment of the armed forces, continues to pose a risk of over-activity for the armed forces.

Programming is also based on a wager The first is that of European capability cooperation.

However, the United Kingdom is weakened by Brexit and the partnership with Germany is today based more on a voluntarist political affirmation than on an industrial or operational reality. In particular, Franco-German cooperation on the future fighter aircraft should preserve French industrial interests.

The Commission's contribution: consolidating programming and monitoring its implementation.

The commission has modified the bill along 5 lines:

1- Securing defence resources

The Commission has introduced a safeguard clause in the event of an increase in oil prices; it has protected the resources of the LPM against a possible universal national service, which cannot be financed, either in appropriations or personnel, by military programming resources. The commission has made provision for taking into account in the resource trajectory, when updating in 2021, the consequences of the decisions of the NATO summits and export contracts that have an impact in terms of "SOUTEX" export support. In 2015, nearly 300 million euros were thus left in the hands of the armed forces, including 200 million euros of indirect expenditure inherent in the withdrawal of equipment.

On OPEXs, the commission included Title 5 in the OPEX surcharge to take account of the accelerated wear and tear of equipment in operations, and limited the surcharge to its share in the general budget the possible contribution of the Ministry of the Armed Forces to the residual OPEX additional costs financed on an interministerial basis. Lastly, the Commission has established the principle of a full return to the armed forces of the proceeds of property disposals (500 million euros are expected from the programming).

2- Strengthening the "real estate" component

This LPM, which is "at the level of men", does not provide for any improvement in terms of military housing, a crucial issue for the soldier and his family, particularly for Sentinelle (there is a shortage of 400 housing units in the Paris region). Worse, the sale of the armies' prestigious heritage at low prices in Paris continues. In order to improve this situation, the commission has provided that the "Duflot" discount would only apply to the sale of army buildings if 100% of the social housing was reserved for the military; This is to prevent the Ministry of the Armed Forces from seeing its assets sold off, without being able to benefit in return from either the proceeds of the sale or additional housing capacity for military personnel. The commission would like the decisions on Val-de-Grâce to be reconsidered in view of the housing needs of Sentinelle in particular.

3- Making the acquisition process more agile to better integrate innovation

The committee adopted an amendment to make the legal framework for equipment purchases more flexible to allow faster and cheaper dissemination of innovation, which is increasingly coming from the civilian sector.

4- Protecting the rights of pensioners and war invalids

In Article 32, the committee has reintroduced, within the administrative litigation, the specific features of the current trial formations, and has specified in Article 36 the conditions for determining military invalidity pensions.

5- Clarifying the provisions relating to incompatibilities for serving members of the armed forces

With regard to communities of communes, the Commission has raised the ceiling above which serving military personnel may not be community councillors to 30,000 inhabitants instead of 15,000. It also removed the ban on military personnel elected in communes with fewer than 9,000 inhabitants from participating in senatorial elections. Lastly, it made the duties of serving military personnel incompatible with the exercise of the presidency of a joint association.

6- Increasing Parliament's power of oversight

The committee, which already has, on the initiative of the Senate in 2013, powers to control the government, including documentary and on-the-spot control of the execution of programming, has also provided for the transmission of new documents enabling it to place this control on a more solid basis. The committee has also provided that the financial effort made for the scheduled maintenance of equipment will be clearly and accurately tracked year after year in the budget documents.

The committee has ensured that, from 2021 onwards, it will have the means to verify the progress of the indicators of the operational readiness of soldiers, which is currently 10% below international standards on average, and the improvement in the technical availability of equipment.

Finally, the Committee planned to increase the powers of information of the parliamentary intelligence delegation (DPR) and to provide it with a rapporteur to strengthen its scrutiny. The Committee adopted the draft programming law thus amended.

Title : Military programming for the years 2019 to 2025
Author (s) : M. Christian CAMBON, Sénateur
Editor : SÉNAT
Collection : SESSION ORDINAIRE DE 2017-2018