“Our times require us to put the fighter back at the heart of our attention”: President Emmanuel Macron presented his wishes, Friday January 19 in Cherbourg (Manche), to the French armies. During his speech from the naval base, the head of state reaffirmed “the principles which guide France’s support for Ukraine”, where he plans to visit in February for the second time since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022. “Our duty is to make Russian victory impossible. » “A Russian victory is the end of European security,” he added.

“We will continue to help the Ukrainians, in a pragmatic and comprehensive manner,” insisted the Head of State, specifying that France would continue “by equipping them in all the areas which are essential to them: artillery, ground-to-air defense and ranged strikes.”

“We must amplify the transformation that has begun” in order to respond more quickly to Ukraine’s needs in the war against Russia, the head of state told the industrialists. “I ask each boss to be totally focused on production and supply issues. We must never again be satisfied with production deadlines that extend over several years,” he insisted.

“What is expected of everyone is basically to gain in speed, in volume, in innovation,” argued Mr. Macron, who has been pleading for “an industry in war economy mode” since February 2022 and the start of the war in Ukraine.

The Head of State spoke in particular of the “comfortable years” which, sometimes, caused “a form of satisfied numbness which allowed us to maintain a very high level of quality, very high but expensive, costly at small flows, at little innovation.” But “this world no longer allows it,” he argued.

The president expressed satisfaction with the improvement in production rates of the Caesar cannon, the Mistral missile, the Rafale plane and Thales radars. But “others were slow to understand the change in strategic context, the importance of being able to deliver quickly” and “have, over the past year and a half, sometimes missed contracts and I regret it,” he said.

“Managing by deadlines is vital,” insisted Mr. Macron, calling for “no longer counting in years but in months and weeks.” “Choice and cost control [are] an imperative”, he also argued, invoking the “citizen’s duty” which falls to everyone because “each euro of the LPM [military programming law] must be useful “.

The universal national service will experience a significant boost

Paris, criticized abroad for the weakness of its support, increased its announcements of military aid to Kiev this week: around forty long-range Scalp missiles first, around fifty AASM bombs (modular air-ground weapons) per month for a year thereafter, a ramp-up in the production of 155-millimeter shells, and the financing of twelve additional Caesar cannons.

France is “in the process of finalizing an important security agreement” with Ukraine of the type of that concluded on January 12 between the United Kingdom and Ukraine over ten years, the head of state declared on Tuesday, during of his press conference.

In line with the “rearmament” of society, mentioned Tuesday during his press conference, the President of the Republic also affirmed in Cherbourg that “the universal national service will experience a significant boost in the weeks to come. It’s an imperative.” “To consolidate a society determined to face its destiny in a world and in a society where centrifugal forces are strengthening,” he added.

A shortage of around 2,000 people in the army

The last French soldiers left Niger on December 22, ending ten years of anti-jihadist operations in the Sahel, after being pushed out in Mali and Burkina Faso by hostile juntas. Since then, the armies, regularly called upon to “transform”, have been waiting for prospects to reorient their missions in Africa, but also towards other regions: the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, the Arab-Persian Gulf or the east of the ‘Europe.

Since the war between Israel and Hamas engulfed the Middle East, a helicopter carrier, the Dixmude, has been reconditioned into a military hospital. Anchored in Egyptian waters, he treated “more than a thousand” Gazan civilians injured by Israeli bombings on Gaza, according to Mr. Macron.

The French navy also distinguished itself on December 9, by firing missiles for the first time in “self-defense” in the Red Sea, in the face of attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels who claim to be acting in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza. Several European countries, led by France and Italy, are in discussions to send a European mission to the area, to protect this crucial sea route for Europe’s economic security.

The armies will also be in great demand in 2024 for the Olympic Games which will mobilize at least 15,000 soldiers this summer. They are looking for a solution to face retention and recruitment difficulties, notably a shortage of around 2,000 people in the army.

Emmanuel Macron had already gone to Cherbourg in 2019 to officially launch the Suffren, the first in a series of six new nuclear attack submarines (SNA), more discreet and more heavily armed, considered symbols of the strategic independence of France.