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Macron vows to double foreign military budget

January 19, 2018

President Emmanuel Macron has announced a plan to increase funds to the military, particularly for overseas anti-terrorism deployments. Macron caused waves amongst the military last summer when he tried to slash funding.

Mali G5-states are planning new deployments to the Sahel region
Image: picture alliance/B. Pedersen

President Emmanuel Macron told soldiers on Friday that France would boost spending for the country's overseas missions. Speaking at the naval base in Toulon, Macron promised to "stop the erosion of our military capacity."

"We have entered an era of great turbulence," Macron said. "With globalization, our country's interests are no longer limited to our territory. Sometimes, defending our territory consists in fighting terrorists thousands of kilometers away."

France has nearly 4,000 troops stationed in Niger, Mali and Chad to assist local forces in fighting extremists.

The president announced an increase in his defense budget of 1.8 billion euros ($2.2 billion) for a total of 34.2 billion euros. For operations on foreign soil, the funding will just about double from 450 million euros to 1.1 billion euros by 2020.

"What we have to retain is France's rightful place in the concert of nations," Macron argued. He then praised the rescue of 106 migrants off the coast of Libya by French soldiers last week.

Macron has not had much luck with the military during his six months in office.

Over the summer, the chief of staff of the armed forces, General Pierre de Villiers, resigned after a clash with the president over cuts to France's military budget.

President Macron also reiterated his campaign promise to bring back the national service, a one-month conscription for young people that was phased out in 2001.

es/kms (AP, dpa)