SUnder the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, all the appropriations provided for in the previous military programming law (LPM) 2019-2025 were spent during the first four years of its execution, which had not happened since 1964, and the LPM 2024-2030 announces considerable expenditure (413 billion euros). A break ? This is not so sure…
Since the beginning of the XXe century, France was at almost permanent war: it had successively faced two world conflicts and two wars of decolonization, it had been in foreign operations continuously since 1961. Military expenditure fell only rarely and briefly: 1919-1922 after the first world war, 1945-1950 after the second, 1990-2001 after the cold war. The end of the conflict in Algeria in 1962 did not lead to a reduction, because it was necessary to finance the nuclearization of the armies.
In (relative) peacetime, the five phases of strong increase in constant euros go from 1905 (first Moroccan crisis) to 1914, from 1933 to 1939, from 1960 to 1973 (construction of the strategic and tactical nuclear force), from 1975 to 1989, and finally since 2001, at a rate never seen before. This last episode can be explained in particular by the professionalization of the armies, the emergence of globalized terrorism and strong conflictuality (Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Syria, Mali, Central African Republic, Ukraine , Yemen). The LPM only accelerates this growth.
Military programming laws have followed one another since 1960 – only the years 1976, 1983, 1989 and 1993-1994 were not subject to programming. For a long time specific to each army, the “programme laws” brought together, from 1964, the equipment projects of all the armies in a single text. Since 1977, operating expenditure has also been programmed. Despite their recurrence, LPMs are presented differently (duration, scope, financial or physical objectives, degree of precision in figures, more or less detailed schedule, expenditure ceiling). The two LPMs covering the period 2019-2030 are unprecedented in terms of their duration (seven years each). And the LPM 2024-2030 sets, for the first time, minimum expenditure amounts.
Hazards and constraints
However, military programs are rarely fully implemented and completed, for several reasons. First, LPMs are not legally binding. Moreover, products of power relations, they attempt to satisfy sometimes contradictory needs: the balance between the different armies, questions of rank to be maintained or regained internationally, budgetary and industrial considerations. And they suffered the consequences of political alternations: they were frozen in 1987 and 1995 for this reason.
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