What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

French troop deployments abroad

France has been stretching itself since a while now, with all the different missions it is involved in, under UN, EU and NATO banners. Question: are they coming back to fully participate in the North-Atlantic Alliance's military planning and decision-making around or at the anniversary NATO Summit in Strasbourg/Kehl, i.e. in one of the most "Franco-German" locations on the planet, in April? They are not entirely out of mentioned planning and decision-making mechanisms, even as we speak, of course, but still the move would have much political as well as symbolic importance. And it opens a bunch of practical issues, such as how many and what kind of posts the French are ready to settle with in the organisation with the coming change. Behind the scenes there definitely is some talking going on. And last Friday, NATO's Sec-Gen went to Paris, and spoke to the Assemblée Nationale. You can read the text of that speech here to get a sense of how much things have advanced.

But. For now France is not offering an increased troop commitment in Afghanistan. Even though such an increased commitment by France could affect the intra-alliance dynamics of the politics of burden-sharing. Will they offer more at a later stage?

Well, to start a little guessing, here's a link (thx go to D for it) about the French plans to pull out troops from Africa, i.e. from Chad and Ivory Coast more specifically. The aim is to save about 100 to 150 million euros and "gain more mobility" for other missions on which France intends to concentrate more.

That's sure interesting, but part of the reasoning, at least in domestic politics, seems to be that such a drawdown of one's forces in faraway Africa is just what is needed at a time of economic crisis. Poland, also with soldiers deployed in Chad, seems to be mimicking this rationalisation. Plus the EUFOR mission in Chad is coming to an end in March anyway, with French interest and a French contingent remaining there anyway, the latter to serve with the developing UN force after mid-March. (More links re: this here and here.)

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