France, Spain and Conventional Defence

  • Stephen J. Flanagan
Part of the Studies in International Security book series (SIS)


Among the most significant developments in the European security situation during the past few years are the shifts in French military organization and plans and the expanding Franco-German defence dialogue. The Mitterrand government has reorganized the Armée de Terre, improving somewhat its capabilities for involvement in the ‘forward battle’, and has taken a number of other steps that could facilitate a more coordinated French role in NATO military plans. The growing military relationship between Paris and Bonn has become a major factor and a potential driving force for European defence cooperation. Germany and the other NATO Allies are well aware they are unlikely to obtain an unequivocal assurance of active French participation in the forward battle, extension of its nuclear umbrella, or of Allied access to the critical logistical infrastructure on French territory. However, France has taken a number of steps to improve its capabilities to come to the aid of its NATO partners quickly if it so chooses. Despite the undernourished state of its conventional forces (as a consequence of the primacy of nuclear weapons in French strategy), the intervention of these forces, coupled with access to logistical assets on its territory, could improve NATO’s conventional defences considerably. Indeed, as Robert Komer has argued, ‘whether NATO can achieve a credible nonnuclear initial defense posture in the crucial Center Region may well depend on the key role played by France’.1


Nuclear Weapon Nuclear Force French Territory Conventional Force European Defence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Robert W. Komer, Maritime Strategy or Coalition Defense? (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984), p. 83.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    General Michel Fourquet, ‘Emploi des différents systèmes de forces dans le cadre de la stratégie de dissuasion’, Revue de Défense Nationale, May 1969, pp. 757–67.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    David Yost, France’s Deterrent Posture and Security in Europe, Part I, Capabilities and Doctrine, Adelphi Paper No. 194 (London: IISS, 1984), p. 9.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kenneth Hunt, NATO Without France: The Military Implications, Adelphi Paper No. 32 (London: IISS, 1966), p. 7.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    F. Roy Willis, The French Paradox: Understanding Contemporary France (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1982), p. 43.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    General Jeannou Lacaze, ‘La Politique Militaire’, Défense Nationale, November 1981, p. 10.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    IISS, ‘French Defence Policy’, Strategic Survey, 1976 (London: IISS, 1977), pp. 66–71.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    IISS, The Military Balance, 1974–75 (London: IISS, 1975), p. 21;Google Scholar
  9. IISS and The Military Balance, 1983–84 (London: IISS, 1983), pp. 32–3.Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    Ambassade de France, Service de Presse, ‘Reorganization of the French Army’, 30 June 1983.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    General René Imbot, ‘The French Rapid Action Force’, NATO’s Sixteen Nations Special 1/1983, pp. 34–9;Google Scholar
  12. General René Imbot and François Cailleteau ‘La Force D’Action Rapide’, Etudes Polémologiques 3/1983 (December 1983), pp. 5–6.Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    Giovanni de Briganti, ‘Farrel Exercise Reveals Limits of French Force d’Action Rapide’, Armed Forces Journal International December 1985, p.28.Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    General Georges Fricaud-Chagnaud, ‘Origins, Capabilities and Significance of the Force d’Action Rapide’, unpublished paper, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC, October 1984, p. 10.Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    Jonathan Marcus and Bruce George, MP, ‘The Ambiguous Consensus: French Defence Policy under Mitterrand’, World Today, October 1983, p. 373. Orders for 25 Mirage aircraft, artillery batteries and armoured vehicles were actually cancelled in 1983.Google Scholar
  16. 20.
    Robert Rudney, ‘France, Boeing Sign $550-million Contract to Buy Three AWACS’, Armed Forces Journal International, April 1987, p. 34.Google Scholar
  17. 22.
    Deborah Caen, ‘French Defense Equipment Budget Up, But Cuts Loom for Maintenance’, Armed Forces Journal International, October 1986, p. 44.Google Scholar
  18. 23.
    Anne Chaussebourg, ‘L’existence de la FAR n’implique pas un engagement automatique dans la “bataille de l’avant” déclare M. Hernu’, Le Monde, 3 December 1984.Google Scholar
  19. 25.
    Komer, Maritime Strategy pp. 83–4; and Harold Brown, Thinking About National Security: Defense and Foreign Policy in a Dangerous World (Boulder, Colorado. Westview, 1983), pp. 103, 107.Google Scholar
  20. 26.
    David S. Yost, France and Conventional Defense in Central Europe (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1985), pp. 53–76.Google Scholar
  21. 29.
    John Vinocur, ‘Paris—Bonn Military Ties: A Time for Reappraisal’, New York Times, 20 October 1982, p. 11.Google Scholar
  22. 30.
    William Wallace, ‘European Defence Cooperation: The Reopening Debate’, Survival 26, 6 (November/December 1984), p. 251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 32.
    William Drozdiak, ‘Bonn Seeks more Influence on French Nuclear Targeting’, Washington Post, 20 April 1984, p. A19;Google Scholar
  24. William Drozdiak and ‘Schmidt Proposes Defense Merger by France, W. Germany’, Washington Post 29 June 1984, p. A21.Google Scholar
  25. 33.
    Kurt Becker, ‘Europe Blueprints its own Security Policy’, Die Zeit 24 February 1984, in German Tribune 1123 (4 March 1984), p. 1.Google Scholar
  26. 34.
    Drozdiak, ‘Schmidt Proposes Defense Merger’, p. A21; and ‘Franco—German Ties Crucial, Says Schmidt’, General-Anzeiger Bonn 4 July 1984, in German Tribune 1141 (15 July 1984), p. 2.Google Scholar
  27. 35.
    Pierre Lellouche, L’Avenir de la Guerre (Paris: Editions Mazarine, 1985), pp. 279–88.Google Scholar
  28. 37.
    François Heisbourg, ‘Réalités et Illusions’, Le Monde, 5 June 1985, p. 2.Google Scholar
  29. 39.
    Pierre Lellouche, ‘La Furia Française’, Le Point 660 (15 July 1985), pp. 24–5.Google Scholar
  30. 41.
    Federal Republic of Germany, Press and Information Office, ‘Bonn Considering French Nuclear Protection’, The Week In Germany, 11 October 1985, p. 2.Google Scholar
  31. 42.
    Paul Lewis, ‘Paris—Bonn Military Accord is Reached’, New York Times, 2 March 1986, p. 3;Google Scholar
  32. Paul Lewis, ‘Franco—West German Brigade outside NATO is Planned’, New York Times, 18 July 1987, p. 4;Google Scholar
  33. Paul Lewis and Edward Cody, ‘W. Europe Reevaluates its Defense’, Washington Post, 13 July 1987, p. 13.Google Scholar
  34. 46.
    Gregory F. Treverton, Spain: Domestic Politics and Security Policy, Adelphi Paper No. 204 (London: IISS, 1986), pp. 21–3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Institute for Strategic Studies 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen J. Flanagan

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations