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French defence shakeup: more for less?


French defence It should all be music to the ears of top military brass in Brussels, Washington and at the United Nations, who have long been struggling to fill gaps in under-resourced peacekeeping missions from Africa to Afghanistan.

Although the total number of mission-fit French forces will fall to 30,000 from 50,000 under the plans, the idea is that they will be better equipped, more mobile and better able to respond to everything from terrorism to cyber-attacks.

That is what defence wonks mean when they talk about “transformation” of the world’s large but mostly lumbering standing armies built up during the Cold War.

Paris promises a win-win deal for NATO and the EU. Not only will it play a bigger role in the transatlantic alliance whose military structures it quit four decades ago, but it also sees scope for more pooling of Europe’s scarce defence resources.