Military of France

Essay by pnarUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, May 2006

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The titular head of the French armed forces is the President of the Republic, in his role as Chef des Armées -- the President is thus Commander-in-Chief of French Forces. However, the Constitution puts civil and military government forces at the disposal of the gouvernement (the executive cabinet of ministers, who are not necessarily of the same political side as the president). The Minister of Defence (as of 2005, Michéle Alliot-Marie) oversees the military's funding, procurement and operations.

The French armed forces are divided into four branches:

* Army (Armée de Terre), including

o Chasseurs Alpins

o Foreign Legion (Légion étrangère)

o Marine troops

o light aviation (ALAT - Aviation Légére de l'Armée de Terre)

o engineers (Génie)

+ including Paris Fire Brigade

* Navy (Marine Nationale), including

o Naval Air

o naval fusiliers and naval commandos

o Including Marseille Fire Battalion

* Air Force (Armée de l'Air) including

o territorial Air Defence

o air fusiliers

* Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale), a military police force which serves for the most part as a rural and general purpose police force.

They also include the following services:

* General delegation to weaponry (defence procurement agency), military/civilian service, including

o formerly, the Direction of Naval Constructions

o supervision of some engineering schools (including École Polytechnique, École Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées and SUPAERO)

* Health service of the armies, which operates a number of military hospitals

* Service of fuels.


The total number of military personnel is approximately 300,000. However, 100,000 of these are in the Gendarmerie, and thus a vast majority of these 100,000 are used in everyday law enforcement operations inside France and are not fit for external operations. Elements of the Gendarmerie are however present in all French external operations, providing troops specialised in order enforcement and military police.