National Defence


A/ Missions entrusted to the armed forces

The French Armed Forces fulfill France’s general military strategy, which
focuses on preventing, limiting and, if necessary, forcefully settling crises and regional conflicts; these actions are all carried out with nuclear deterrence, all the while maintaining the military’s fundamental role and guarantee to protect.

France’s security and defence policies are undeniably based on a European and international perspective. More and more, French forces are called to fulfill their missions within multinational setting, such as the UN, OSCE, EU, NATO, circumstantial coalitions, various co-operations, etc. Protecting France’s interests is essential and the implementation of bilateral defence agreements requires the preservation of some national autonomy, particularly in terms of estimating the situation.

In addition, given that defence is a global issue, France’s military action always goes hand in hand with that of other ministries.


The missions that are entrusted to the armed forces are as follows:

- continually protect France’s major interests from all forms of harm;
- contribute to securing and protecting the European and Mediterranean areas in anticipation of a potential joint European defence policy;
- contribute to peace actions and the respect of international law; and,
- carry out public service duties, mainly by reinforcing means upon request and supporting organizations normally responsible for civil defence.

B/ Defence and National Security White Paper

On June 17, 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy issued the white paper findings on National Defence and Security before 3,000 forces gathered at Porte de Versailles.


The white paper defines France’s global defence and security strategy for the next 15 years. The program, which was developed by a commission, will serve as the basis for the next two military program measures, which will be voted for by the French Parliament. This 2008 white paper comes after two other national defence white papers: the first, published in 1972 by Michel Debré, and the second, published in 1994, under the Édouard Balladur government.

Last modified on 10/09/2010

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