The French defense ministry unveiled France’s 2015 defense strategy last week, which was revised following the terrorist attacks in Paris and the Islamic extremist threat stemming from Africa, reports Vice News.
“Never before in its recent history has France seen this level of connection between the direct threats on home turf and those outside its borders,” reportedly said the French government in a document highlighting its defense priorities for 2015.
“In order to maintain its military presence at home and abroad, the government has decided to save 23,000 posts that were set to be scrapped by 2019, within the framework set out by the Military Programming Law — 2013 legislation that outlined France’s military agenda for the next six years,” explains Vice News.
The U.S. government may be faced with a similar decision as it grapples with the sequestration legislation’s automatic budget cuts.
Defense officials have said those cuts will require reductions in the size of the military that will have an impact on readiness.
France plans to send more troops to the African Sahel region, south of the Sahara Desert to fight Islamic extremists despite the 2013 decision to freeze the defense budget and cut military jobs.
At home, forces will remain deployed across France under Operation Sentinel at least until summer begins, said French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in unveiling France’s revised military agenda.
The French government spends nearly $1 million daily to run Operation Sentinel, which mobilizes 10,000 troops on French soil to protect 682 sensitive sites across the country including religious sites, railway stations, airports, and tourist attractions.
In Iraq, Le Drian said France will continue its participation in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Internationally, France is involved in three fronts: Operation Sangaris in the Central African Republic (CAR); Operation Barkhane in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad; and Operation Chammal in Iraq.
Le Drian said that France may reduce its military presence in the CAR from to help reinforce France’s military efforts in the Sahel region where the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram is known to operate.
France is expected to step up military assistance against the terrorist group Boko Haram.
“France has to make some difficult decisions, which is why [the government] has decided to downsize operations in the Central African Republic, where the [improved] security situation is no longer a top priority” Bruno Tertrais, a senior research fellow at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research, told VICE News.
“The main argument for downsizing and reducing the number of troops is a financial one,” also said Tertrais.
He identified the growing threat in the African Sahel region posed by ISIS sympathizers in Libya and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali as a “priority concern” for France.
“From the Atlantic to the Middle East, there is a belt of weakened states where jihadist insurgent groups proliferate,” explained Tertrais.”France, for example, has been sounding the alarm for months over the situation in Libya. France won’t lead operations in Libya, but it’s still a major point of concern for the country.”
Tertrais describe the home-based Operation Sentinel as “unsustainable” due to its $1 million per day price tag.