Late last month, the government of France issued a defense white paper outlining its priorities and plans for the military through 2019. In an email interview, Rachel Utley, an expert on French defense and security policies at the University of Leeds, explained the context and implications of the white paper.
WPR: What are the major implications of the defense white paper, in terms of impact on force structure and capabilities, and any shifts of emphasis in terms of strategic focus and forward-deployed forces?
Rachel Utley: French defense white papers used not to come along too often: 1972; 1994 in the aftermath of the Cold War; and 2008 considering the implications of globalization. This fourth, only five years after the last, acknowledges the impact of prolonged economic crisis and the emergence of previously unforeseen, or underappreciated, threats to defense and national security.