the Court of Auditors proposes to reduce the airfoil in a limited budgetary context

Could the Court of Auditors review your copy of your report?The Military Planning Act (LPM) 2019-2025 and the capabilities of the armies “, the presentation of which was scheduled for March 2 and has been postponed? Is it possible. Because the war in Ukraine has probably wiped out some convictions of the speakers, who have had the usual temptation to confront the ambitions of armies (Ambition 2030) strictly from a public finance point of view. However, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia could weaken the budget orthodoxy of the Court of Auditors. In a copy of the report obtained by La Tribune, he notes in addition, an implementation of the budget of the first years (2019-2021) of the military planning law 2019-2025 “gstrictly in line with the program “ And this “contrary to what had happened for two decades previous military programming laws “ (LPM).

An effort that goes against budgetary limits

The Court of Auditors has so far had very serious doubts about the continuation of this budgetary effort for the armies between 2024 and 2025, then during the next LPM, which should lead the armies to the “Ambition 2030” model. Why these doubts, which are legitimate from a strictly budgetary point of view? The Court considers that “the The increase in power of the defense instrument provided for by the LPM 2019-2025 military planning law collides with the conjunction of two unfavorable developments. On the one hand, public finances have deteriorated as a result of the health crisis, imposing an effort to reduce the public deficit by 2027 which could counter the continued strong growth of defense budgets. On the other hand, the acceleration and diversification of the increase in threats highlighted by the 2021 Strategic Update tend to parallel to the growing defense needs “.

“Since the budget of the Ministry of Armed Forces in 2021 represents 10.5% of that of the State excluding the debt burden, the context of public finances is not in line with the objectives of increasing volumes aimed at achieving all ambitions described by the LPM, except to direct most of the resources destined to revive the economy towards the defense effort. This orientation has not been adopted at this stage by the government “, notes the Court.

Result, the LPM 2019-2025, which has was built on the hypothesis d ‘a budget of 47 Billion euros in 2024, then 50 billions in 2025, “it cannot be inserted without great difficulty into the necessary overall recovery of public finances”, assures the Court. However, it is looking for room for maneuver, which is meager. “The margin of maneuver of the Ministry of Armies is limited, especially after more than a decade of major structural reforms. In this context, it cannot be ruled out that it will be necessary to reopen a reflection on the model of the army “he points out.

A front that could be difficult to maintain with the war in Ukraine, which sweeps away a large number of very rational hypotheses on paper. With Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, there is a before and an after. And this unstable international situation is certainly only at the beginning of the cycle, which will not allow France to lay down its arms. Especially since Germany will increase its budget effort for its army to 100 billion euros by 2022.

Three unsatisfactory scenarios

In the three scenarios, which are not satisfactory, look for the famous budgetary room for maneuver. the the first is that of the confirmation of Ambition 2030, or the scenario of reference from ministry from the armies. IL suppose the Chase from the increase in the defense budget. “This is a major challenge in a context of public finances weakened by the consequences of the health crisis and constrained by the commitment to reduce the government deficit to 3 % of GDP by 2027 “, says the court. The second is that of reduction homothetic of the capabilities of armies and ambitions. “This choice had been withheld by default in 2008 and 2013, not without damage to the capabilities of armies; today it would risk jeopardizing the coherence of the template”says the court.

The third is, according to the Court, “to make capacity choices, including probably irreversible renunciations, which began to do so lead the UK in its strategic review in 2021 “. This option seems to be preferred by the wise men of rue Cambon. But this hypothesis risks making armies scream, especially the sacrificed army, which nevertheless has been highly sought after by politicians in all theaters of operations, and by aviation. But also industrialists, as the Court observed: “On industrial capabilities, it would be necessary to assume lasting renunciations of certain skills that are difficult to replenish once lost”. Last but least, the Court seems to want to question the French model of nuclear deterrence. In the late 1990s, Britain gave up the aerial component of deterrence.

“Our model of armies focuses on a capacity of two-component deterrence, of which they must be essential elements renewed simultaneously over the next two decades: reach drastic choices, leaving them aside, would risk burdening the effort disproportionately on the ground force, which was, in practice, most urged in operations since the end of the Cold War “.

Such a scenario would call into question the model of a complete army defined so far by France. A model that involves makingter the French armies altogether the military capabilities necessary to carry out all missions, assigned to them under the five strategic defense functions: knowledge / anticipation, conflict prevention, deterrence nuclearintervention and protection of the territory and populations, in order to “preserve the strategic autonomy of our country”