Any Jupiter that he is, Emmanuel Macron has “failed” in the management of the crisis with the general Pierre de Villiers and his resignation. A mess of amazing due to a succession of at least four errors of assessment caps, which have led to the departure of a chief of staff of armies (CEMA) respected members of the military, parliamentarians and industrialists : savings in the defense budget for 2017, to the general surprise, reframing public very severe of general de Villiers, erosion of the right to information of Parliament and, finally, ignorance of the responsibilities of the chief of staff of the armed forces.
On the other hand, Emmanuel Macron, seems he made the right choice on the successor, general Pierre de Villiers. The appointment of the new chief of staff of the armed forces general François Lecointre (55 years old), who arrives at the head of the armed forces in a crisis situation, seems to be unanimity in the armed forces. Recognized for having fought as a “hero” in Yugoslavia and Africa, recently promoted to four-star (1 march 2017) will however have to win with finesse in front of some generals more experienced than him.
1/ A budget cut surprise for the armed forces
When the interview of the minister of the public Accounts Gérald Darmanin seems to be on the 11th of July in “The new yorker” detailing the budget cuts, the lightning falls on the staff of the armed forces. The military must be 850 million euros of savings on the program 146 as the year is already very advanced. The decree of cancellation of credits was published Friday morning in the official Journal. Within the institution, destabilized, it is the surprise and incomprehension, then anger as the president wishes to “enhance” the commitment of the military, already stressed, in external operations (OPEX).
Why such a reaction? Emmanuel Macron had promised not to lower the defence budget, but to increase it. The military had believed his promises. However, the state-major, who was lucid on the general situation of France, was ready to make savings by contributing for example to the height of 20% to the additional costs of OPEX that it remains to be paid in 2017 (850 million). But he fell out of the cabinet when he knew he had to bear 20% of the total budgetary savings announced (4.5 billion euros).
In the wake of the interview of Gérald Darmanin, military, parliamentarians and industrialists mobilize, but it is already too late. The head of the State has already decided. It will never come back on its decision. In the end, more of pedagogies with the military may have averted a major crisis, which led to the resignation of the chief of staff of the armed forces, a first under the Fifth Republic.
2/ The general de Villiers trapped by the leaks
Perfectly in its role, the ECS, that considers the budget “not sustainable”, warns the deputies of the committee of defense. The Big dummy is not dumb as some observers have wrongly… As revealed by The Tribune last Wednesday, the chief of staff of the armed forces was furious with this decision of Bercy during his hearing at the national Assembly. In off, he had even yelled to the deputies : “I will not let myself not b….. like this” by Bercy. These remarks were leaked and were taken up by the press. Emmanuel Macron would have had better appreciate this situation instead of stiffen in the face of the statements of general de Villiers, however, renewed on June 30, a year older. An explanation of man-to-man would have been more logical.
But Thursday 13 July in the gardens of the Hotel de Brienne, the head of the State jumps a bridge too far. It reframes suddenly the CEMA in front of an audience of military, industry, and international guests to be surprised by this output. A humiliation and unnecessary. “I consider for my part that he is not worthy to spread the debates in the public square. I made commitments, I am your leader. The commitments that I take in front of the fellow citizens, in front of the armies, I know, and I have in this regard need no pressure, no comment,” he started with a tone very firm. The resignation of the ECS appears to be the only way logical to most of the guests interviewed by The Tribune this evening.
Three days later, Emmanuel Macron persists and signs in his error. It gives a layer in the columns of the “Sunday Newspaper” yet very brutal. “If something is between the chief of staff of the armed forces to the president of the Republic, the chief of staff of the armed forces change,” he explains. It is clear, and net to general de Villiers who takes the consequences. His entourage tried to dissuade from.
3/ The parliamentary furious
“I like the sense of duty, I love the meaning of the reservation”, has hammered Emmanuel Macron. Of the remarks which were also very badly perceived by the parliamentarians. In the margin of a tribute to general Pierre de Villiers, the Senate, and recalled “the absolute right of the Parliament committees of information, which is the foundation of democracy”. Moreover, the mp Philippe folliot e (LREM, Tarn) has estimated that this “leak” creates a very damaging precedent which could break the link of trust to own all hearings on such sensitive issues that require restraint and discretion. Otherwise, the hearings “warm water” have no more interest”.
4/ The chief-of-staff is in his right to defend his budget
Behind error by Emmanuel Macron, the lack of knowledge of the responsibilities of the chief of staff of the armed forces. The new chief of staff of the armed forces “will not a budget to defend, because it is not the role of the chief-of-staff, it is the role of the minister for the Armed forces,” said Wednesday the president at Serre-Chevalier (Hautes-Alpes), to the arrival of the stage of the Tour de France. And at the same time, this is not exactly how it works in the defence…
According to the decree of 15 July 2009 on its remit, the chief of staff of the armed forces is responsible, inter alia, of the definition of the format of all of the armies, and of their coherence in capabilities. “As such, it defines the needs of the armies, and by control satisfaction” and “carried out the work of planning and programming”, states the decree. The ECS is also responsible for “the preparation and the implementation of the conditions of employment of the armed forces”. Thus, it sets the objectives for their preparation, and control their ability to perform their missions. Finally, it expresses “the need for infrastructure joint and armed forces and checks for satisfaction.”
Very clearly, the ECS ensures the consistency of the actions of the armed forces, not only in the employment of the forces, but also in their preparation and as regards their equipment. The general Lecointre will, therefore, be legitimate to defend its budget. No offense to the president of the Republic.