In the Indo-Pacific, the French army is trying to assert itself

The task is vast and the means limited. Since the assertion of Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific zone and the parallel exacerbation of Sino-American tensions, France has been trying to defend its interests in this region. An area where, as she often recalls, due to its overseas territories, it has around 1.6 million inhabitants and 9 million km2 exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

While from May 11 to 16 takes place for the first time, in Japan, a large-scale amphibious military exercise between the Japanese, French and American armed forces, precisely aimed at testing a scenario of taking over an island from a possible adversary , the Ministry of Defense presented, on May 6, its assessment of two years of implementation of its strategy in the Indo-Pacific zone.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also French, Japanese and American forces simulate recapture of an island in the Pacific

Currently, some 7,000 soldiers, fifteen buildings and forty French aircraft are thus deployed in the Indo-Pacific zone. The whole is placed under the authority of five zonal commands, while Paris maintains a network of eighteen defense attachés within its diplomatic representations. If the number of deployed men has not increased in two years, the pace of exercises, missions and diplomatic exchanges has clearly intensified, according to the Ministry of Defense.

A concern for visibility

“Our strategy is intended to be continuous and permanent, but not disembodied and incantatory”, summed up Air Corps General Luc de Rancourt, Deputy Director General of International Relations and Strategy (DGRIS). A concern for visibility which has notably gone through broad communication around the journey of the nuclear attack submarine (ANS) Emerald, returned to Toulon on April 7, after a seven-month mission to the South China Sea – a first for twenty years. Usually, absolute secrecy is kept on French submarine missions at sea.

In 2019, the French strategy in the Indo-Pacific zone was also embodied by the highly publicized dispatch of the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle to Singapore even if it had not been in the South China Sea, where tensions were already high with Beijing. “The operational issues to be resolved are very complicated” in this zone at the antipodes, admitted, on May 6, the interrogated officers. But, they added, “We will only be credible if we manage to repeat these missions on a regular basis”. That of the SNA required two years of anticipation.

You have 40.86% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.

Leave a Reply