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This chapter provides readers with an overview of the transformations of French defence policy since 1991. To a large degree, French defence policy is still perceived through a 'Gaullist' prism by non-specialist observers, who tend to analyse French defence developments by referring to a pursuit of 'independence' at all costs, or a willingness to maintain neo-colonialists' privileges. This chapter challenges this prevailing narrative by providing a concise yet complete analysis of the drivers of French defence policy. First, it discusses the French strategic culture, the institutional setting (role of the president, parliament, etc.) and civil-military relations in France. Second, it presents the role of nuclear weapons in French defence policy. Finally, it presents the evolution of the force structure since 1991. It also discusses the two key drivers of military change in France: interventions abroad and France's membership to international security institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of European Defence Policies and Armed Forces
EditorsHugo Meijer, Marco Wyss
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date19. Jul 2018
ISBN (Print)9780198790501
Publication statusPublished - 19. Jul 2018


  • Civil-military relations
  • Defence policy
  • France
  • Gaullism
  • Military change
  • NATO


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