France to cut 7,500 military jobs in new budget cuts
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France is to slash 7,500 jobs in its military as part of make major cuts to defence spending. An artillery regiment is to be scrapped, five warships are to be decommissioned and a military hospital to be restructured.
The cuts are part of the government’s efforts to reduce the budget deficit to three per cent of gross domestic product, as required by the European Commission, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian explained when he announced them on Wednesday.
"The sovereignty of our country depends as much on tackling our public accounts as on our defence," he said.
The dissolution of a naval artillery unit and the closure of the headquarters of the first mechanised brigade has already aroused protest from the mayor of the eastern town of Châlons-en-Champagne, where they are based.
“It’s an economic catastrophe,” Benoist Apparu told France Info radio, estimating that 700 local jobs would go in addition to the 960 military personnel who will be made redundant.
An airforce base at Dijon is also to be scrapped.
There are also protests over the restructuring of the prestigious Val-de-Grace military hospital in Paris.
The hospital, which has cared for Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and
ex-presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac when they were in office.
It is to be transformed into a research and training “pole of excellence” and its medical activities transferred to two other hospitals in the Paris region.
A naval base in at Anglet in western France is to be closed and five warships decommissioned.
At a time when France has 8,000 military personnel are stationed abroad, Le Drian insisited that operational forces will not be affected by the cuts.
About 3,000 personnel are currently involved in Opération Barkhanecombating armed Islamists in the Sahel region.
France is also taking part in US-led air strikes on the Islamic State armed group in Syria and Iraq and has so far announced that it has carried out two.