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Massive job and budget cuts announced for French military

Diarra / Reuters

Some 34,000 French military jobs will be cut by 2019 as France moves to reduce military spending. The new defence white paper released today comes amid discussions about France’s future military role, particularly in Africa.

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The defence ministry's white paper, nine months in the making, sets out France's defence policy and French military spending between 2014 and 2019.

The 24,000 posts will be cut between 2016 and 2019, on top of 10,000 posts already set to go over the next to years as part of a process to cut 54,000 military jobs by 2015 started by the previous president, Nicholas Sarkozy, in 2008. 

The number of posts lost in individual army departments is yet to be decided. However, according to Le Figaro, one of the army's eight brigades is set to go, meaning 7,000 soldiers will lose their jobs.

It also calls for a reduction in the number of soldiers able to be rapidly deployed abroad, from the current 30,000 to 15,000-20,000.

Military spending will be frozen at 31.4 billion euros ove the next two to three years, and total military spending from 2014 and 2019 will be 179.2 billion euros, maintaining France's position as the country with the second-largest defence budget in the European Union after the United Kingdom.

By 2015, military spending will represent 1.5% of France's GDP, down from 1.56% today, and nearly 2% a decade ago.

The paper reinforced the use of France's military to defend its interests and its expatriots, as well as to "contribute to peace and international security in the world, particularly in the Indian Ocean, in Asia and in South America". In addition, it supported close military ties with the rest of Europe and NATO.

The paper also highlighted a focus on combatting cyber warfare and intelligence.

In terms of new military equipment, the white paper anticipates extra surveillence drones by the French engineering firm Thales, the same firm that makes drones for the British military.

The white paper will be presented to parliament and be voted on after the summer.

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