France’s Strategic Posture: The Temptation of Forward Defense

France’s Strategic Posture: The Temptation of Forward Defense

Part I: Series Introduction
Part II: NATO Reintegration and European Defense
Part III: A Widening Focus

PARIS -- Any strategic posture review inevitably boils down to preparing for possible conflict, and the scenarios for potential intervention that were evoked in discussions with French officials and experts this past month reveal a great deal about the evolution in France's vision of its global role.

Some of the scenarios were anchored in the certainty of the past. Maj. Gen. Vincent Desportes, commander of the French Army's Force Employment Doctrine Center, identified any situation involving significant numbers of French citizens as an automatic cause for intervention, a criterion that doesn't plead well for reducing France's military presence in Africa. Bruno Tertrais, research fellow at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, pointed out that until France's treaties in Africa are renegotiated, they remain operative. "I think there's a good chance that our defense engagements will have to be honored in the years to come," he observed, referring to those treaties, but also to more recent ones in the Persian Gulf.

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