France - Armed forces



In 2002 there were 260,400 active personnel in the armed services including 23,660 women. An additional 101,399 served in the Gendarmerie Nationale, which is heavily armed. Reserves totaled 100,000 divide into all services. In 2000 the military budget was $46.5 billion and in 2002 defense spending amounted to 2.6% of GDP.

The strategic nuclear forces maintained 7,000 personnel, mostly in the navy and air force but also as part of the gendarmerie. The army numbered 137,000 including 12,500 women. There were 8,000 members of the foreign legion and 14,700 marines as part of the French army. Equipment included more than 1,200 main battle tanks. The French have the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world; suspected total nuclear strength is 482 weapons.

The French navy numbered 45,600 in 2002 and was equipped with 10 modern submarines, 35 surface combatants, and around 75 other ships for mine warfare, amphibious operations, underwater replenishment, and intelligence operations. France had 6,800 naval aviators, among them were 480 women. There were 1,700 marines including 500 commandos. The navy also provided coast guard services and fishery protection. The French air force numbered 64,000 personnel, including close to 7,000 women, and had an inventory of 449 combat aircraft.

France maintains substantial forces abroad in its colonies and protectorates, supported by two deployed naval squadrons in the Indian Ocean and Pacific. France has substantial garrisons in Antilles-Guyana, New Caledonia, Réunion Island, and Polynesia, and it provides military missions and combat formations to seven African nations. Troops are deployed on peacekeeping missions to 12 different regions.

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