Macron rebuilding French military to safeguard Europe without U.S.

French President Emmanuel Macron is spearheading a robust buildup of French military capability, which he says is necessary because Europe cannot rely on the United States to be its primary defense against outside aggressors.
By Rick Docksai | Aug 31, 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron is leading a push to rebuild France's military into a world-class fighting force. In a speech Monday, he called on France and other European NATO members to rev up their own defense capabilities as he does not count on the United States to be Europe's primary line of defense any longer.

"It is up to us to guarantee European security," he said, adding that he plans to "launch an exhaustive review" of security relations with "all Europe's partners, which includes Russia."

Macron has already pledged to spend $344 billion on the military between 2019 and 2025, which would bring French defense spending up to 2% of national GDP, the official spending target NATO sets for member nations. The increase in funds will cover upgrades to France's armored-vehicle fleets, development of new advanced weapons systems, and purchases of more submarines, frigates, and combat and combat-support aircraft.

France has one of the largest and best-equipped military forces in Europe, according to Ian Anthony of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Anthony anticipates France playing an integral role in boosting the entire continent's defense capabilities in years to come.

Europe has relied on the United States for the bulk of its security for decades, but this may be changing.Anthony said that European nations have been developing numerous bilateral and group partnerships to work together on collective defense, either as part of NATO or outside of it. He said that more partnerships will emerge and that France will play a lead role in many of them.

The French military will cooperate closely with NATO allies to guard against Russian aggression, for example, and boost its troop presence in African nations where Islamist militants are a threat, such as Mali and Niger, he said.

 

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