So you did a double take at the title didn’t you, so did I over a recent article in the Economist which points out several interesting items worth further discussion. As our Franco friends have three battles (Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire and Libya) all going at the same time with armament and manpower not designed for such engagements coupled with a culture more focused on love not war, meaning “stress” fractures are bound to form.
As one of the key challenges of any sovereign military force in today’s world is their original charter which has been to protect the shores of the nation whose flag they fly. However today’s world is vastly different as no one sees the Germans invading France or Great Briton. Even Japan isn’t a threat to the Pacific either, and to top it off the cold war days with the Soviet Union have gone the way of the Berlin wall. The remaining issues are that of China, however the financial machine of the Red Giant is far larger than any military might it would need, thus the world is a really safe place right?
Well if this were the case then why all the protracted conflicts around the globe? The answer is the mission has changed from protecting boarders from invading enemies, to “enforcing our will” where ever it might be needed (as in Libya). Note this is not only an American statement as this is the reason to note the French in the same company as the world has changed however many views have not. As its no longer the threat of a mass enemy, instead its the intrusion and violation of the few. All of this said its time to rethink the concepts of warfare as stated in another Economist article about the sale of Leopard tanks by Germany to Saudi Arabia to defend themselves from Iran (interesting), that the “rifle” in fact was the Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) in this age. As we look at all the recent uprisings and rebellions they have been at gun point and not missiles.
The other interesting piece is the French have only one, yes one aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle now on duty off the coast of Libya which will see active duty for the rest of 2011. However if this is the case, the Franco Admiralty has said it will then be out of service for 2012 for maintenance. Alright what value is something that you have only one of and will have to be removed from service for a year should it need to be used. This in turn brings up the question of the dependency of the European Allies upon the United States (not to mention Canada) should a defensive posture be needed as should an issue arise (but from whom).
As any global level conflict will be one of no return, means this 1 or 100 of something no longer matters, as the game has played full circle in that man left the ground for an advantage only to be forced to return…