The chief of staff of the army, general Peter de Villiers, announced on Wednesday have handed in his resignation to Emmanuel Macron on a background of disagreement with the executive on the budget of the ministry of the Armed forces. He had expressed last week their reservations about the savings imposed by the government to the ministry of the Armed forces, triggering a severe burden public humiliation of Emmanuel Macron in front of an audience of military, industry, and international guests (ambassadors, military attachés, etc.). Which had provoked a major crisis between the military and the Elysée. France and the military lose a great war leader. This is the first false step of the scale of Emmanuel Macron.
“I consider it not to be able to ensure the sustainability of the model of the army which I believe to ensure the protection of France and the French, today, and tomorrow, and support the ambitions of our country,” he wrote in a statement sent to Reuters. “Therefore, I took my responsibilities with this day, my resignation to the President of the Republic, which has accepted it”, he argued.
The budget cut for the armed forces amounted to nearly 900 million euro for 2017, of which almost 850 million euro will focus on the equipment (program 146). General Pierre de Villiers advocates of long standing, an increase in the faster possible to the budget of the armed forces in order to achieve a defence effort of 2% of GDP. “The economies are impeded by nothing to the operational capabilities of France”, a-t-was highlighted Wednesday at the Elysee. And yet…
The chief of the military cabinet of Prime minister Edouard Philippe, general François Lecointre, was named Wednesday, in place of general Pierre de Villiers, chief of staff of the armed forces. “There was no hesitation on the profile of the successor”, a-t-it is indicated of the same source, without giving details about his identity.
A resignation brave
For the Republican congressman, François Cornut-Gentille, the resignation of the chief of Staff of the armed forces is “a courageous decision, but especially useful because it will allow you to open the necessary debate on the funding of our armed forces”. And further : “the question is not to know who is the boss, but if the means of operation are consistent with the policy objectives. Far from being polemical, this debate, too long overlooked, is an essential and worthy in a democracy”.
In the entourage of the chief of staff of the armed forces, the resignation of general de Villiers is the conclusion of a “problem of bottom-budget” and not “a quarrel of men”. The chief of staff of the armed forces hand head high after being beaten for the armed forces. He was received by Emmanuel Macron before the council of defence, which took place on Wednesday morning at the Élysée palace and announced his resignation. It has been represented to the defence board by the chief of the general staff of the armed forces, admiral Philippe Coindreau.
The budgets for 2017 and 2018 under voltage
If the candidate Macron had been clear on the funding of the additional costs of OVERSEAS operations, the president is much less the case today. During his speech of 18 march, the Emmanuel Macron had explained that “we need to increase our defence effort. I propose, therefore, to bear the resources of the defence to 2% of the national wealth, measured in terms of Gross Domestic Product in 2025. This is a very ambitious goal : if we consider the current assumptions of growth in Gross Domestic Product in the next few years, this budget will reach, excluding pensions and excluding additional costs OPEX (external operations, editor’s note), more than fifty billion euros in 2025, compared to 32 in 2017 (in fact, 32.7 billion, editor’s note)”.
In 2017, the defense budget to bear the whole of the extra cost of OPEX, which is expected to raise around € 1.3 billion, of which € 450 million have already been provided for in the initial budget act (LFI). In 2018, this will be a minimum of 650 million euros as announced by Emmanuel Macron on Thursday evening in the gardens of the Hotel de Brienne. It is a notch of size in the defense budget compared to the ambitions. It is far from about Emmanuel Macron in the Sunday Newspaper about the budget of the armed forces : “I say what I do and I do what I say”. The law on military programming which will cover the period 2019-2025 will be obviously crucial to have the end word of the funding of the extra cost of OPEX, called to grow in the light of the ambitions of the president in the Sahel in particular.
“We will be intractable, had assured Emmanuel Macron in may in Gao. We need to continue and increase our commitment. It will be of high intensity here in the Sahel, as in other operations”.
Very many reactions
– “The Senate has been able to measure the very high value of general de Villiers, to appreciate his true word, admire his courage and integrity. It is a very great servant of the Nation to which the committee on foreign affairs and defence of the Senate wants to say his esteem and gratitude.” Christian CAMBON (The Republicans), president of the committee on foreign affairs, defence and armed forces.
– “I would like to pay a special tribute to general Pierre de Villiers, a great servant of the State, a soldier who did honour to the arms of France, and who had the courage to pass on his sense of honour and support to his ideas and beliefs above all.” Philippe folliot e, mp LREM of the Tarn.
– “The resignation of general de Villiers, the great soldier, was unavoidable, the president of the Republic has made the choice of the decline of our military. The gap he opened was a turning point, an ambition and a radiation revised downward to our country. (…) We lower the guard to the point where we should meet. It is a serious fault. The world has never been as threatening. We are in a war against totalitarianism, islamic, always in a state of emergency, our soldiers and their materials are sought more than ever… The fight against deficits should not weaken the struggle against our enemies, there are many other structural reforms to be carried out to straighten the France”. Bruno Retailleau, president of the group Republicans in the Senate, in a column in the Figaro.
– “The resignation of the [general] and Peter de Villiers after the announcement of the budget cuts for our armed forces is the new masterpiece of Emmanuel Macron”. Benoît Hamon, a former socialist presidential candidate, founder of the movement of the 1st of July, on Twittter.
– “The resignation of the chief of staff of the Armed forces, could be remembered as the head of the State does not recognize parliament’s right to be informed…” Jean-Jacques Urvoas, a former keeper of the Seals, on Twitter.
– “I consider that general de Villiers has done his duty. His duty is to speak freely, seriously, precisely in front of the national representation, and in this case the commission of the Defence. I seat and I heard the general say clearly the consequences that could have the confirmation of this decline of € 850 million. He honored the national representation in speaking freely (in front of the defense commission, editor’s note). The word must be free, otherwise the members may not have the judgment of the most accurate on the situation. Also, I disapprove of this resignation and I take the passage to say that general de Villiers, in my eyes, is an extremely rigorous, of high quality, a man of honor”. Alexis Corbière, member of The France insubordinate, a member of the defence committee of the Assembly (Reuters)
– “The resignation of the chief of staff of the army, general Pierre de Villiers, is a very bad news for the French armies that have lost a man of inestimable value, which has always endeavoured to defend his troops, without ever failing in its obligations and always keeping in mind the best interests of the country and its security. This resignation illustrates the drifts are very severe and the limits are very worrying Mr Macron, as much in its attitude as in its policy. Humiliate him in front of his troops, a man like general de Villiers is not worthy of a true chief of the Armed forces. Cuts in the Defence budget, in defiance of his own word and of the dangers of the world, is not worthy of a head of State in lucid and responsible”. Marine le Pen, president of the national Front.
“The departure of general de Villiers will remain as a task on the five-year term of Mr. Macron. Because of him, our armed forces are clearly in danger. General de Villiers was fully in his role in alerting the executive to the dramatic situation of our soldiers. Mr. Macron, playing the small head, nothing wanted to hear and he said, in a purely accounting of irresponsibility, unprecedented.” Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, president of Standing the France.