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The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre ( ), is the land-based component of the French Armed Forces and its largest. As of 2008, the army employs 133,947 regular soldiers and 24 000+ civilians. All soldiers are now considered professionals, following the suspension of conscription in 1996.

During the professionalisation process, numbers dropped from the 1996 236,000 (132,000 conscripts) to around 140,000. By June 1999, the Army's strength had dropped to 186,000, including around 70,000 conscripts. Thirty-eight of 129 regiments were planned to be stood down from 1997-99. The previous structure's nine 'small' divisions and sundry separate combat and combat support brigades were replaced by nine combat and four combat support brigades.

During the Cold War, the French Army, though not part of NATO's military command structure, actively planned for the defence of Western Europe. II Corps was stationed in South Germany, and effectively formed a reserve for NATO's Central Army Group. In the 1980s, III Corps headquarters was moved to Lillemarker and planning started for its use in support of NATO's Northern Army Group. The Rapid Action Force of five light divisions was also intended as a NATO reinforcement force.


The army is divided into different Corps or armes. These units retain both symbolic and non symbolic and administrative values.

The operational organisation of the Army combines units from various Corps in 17 Brigades.


French Armée de Terre statistics
Personnel (Regular Army) 134,000
Personnel (Reserve Forces) 15,800
Main Battle Tanks 400 Leclercs (as of 2008), 17 AMX-30B2
Tank destroyers 192 ERC-90s, 300 AMX-10RCs
Reconnaissance vehicle 1100 VBLs,
Infantry Fighting vehicles 601 AMX-10Ps. To be replaced by the VBCI (550 combat version and 150 command version)
Armoured Personnel Carriers 3,800 VABs
Artillery pieces and mortar 105 TRF1s, 72 Caesar systems (currently being delivered), 134 AMX 30 AuF1s , 48 MLRSs, MO-120-RT-61
Aircraft 5 Pilatus PC-6 Porter, 12 Socata TBM700
Helicopters 80 Eurocopter Tigers (12 already delivered), 8 EC-725, 18 AS-555, 27 AS-532, 230 Gazelle, 90 SA-330s
Mine detection 5 Chubby
Motorcycles Cagiva 350 T4

Principles and values

The principles and values of the French Army are formulated in the Code of the French Soldier:

See also


  1. Jane's Defence Weekly 31 July 1996 and 13 March 1996, IDR July 1998
  2. Kamps, Armies of NATO's Central Front, Jane's Publishing Company, 1985
  3. French military aviation OrBat

External links

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